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UK’s Royal Society can choose talented immigrants

7DaysBigresized.jpgScientists: want to work in the UK but can’t get a visa, what with the strict cap on immigration? Well, now you can try getting a recommendation from the Royal Society!

The Home Office announced today that the august academy will be able to nominate up to 300 people to come to the UK, as part of an entry route for 1,000 people with “exceptional talent”. The Royal Academy of Engineering gets to pick up to 200 people. Arts and humanities agencies are allotted the other 500 places.

The 1000-exceptional-talents route had been trailed in outline last year, when the government said it would limit immigration for highly-skilled non-EU migrants. (After sustained campaigning, the final rules published in February were more sympathetic to researchers than first feared. Scientists get priority in the queue to secure the 1,500 entry visas now allowed each month).

Imran Khan, director of the London-based advocacy group Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK (CaSE) said (press release): “We welcome the extra places allocated to the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering – however, the flaw in the Government’s plans is obvious: why should the UK have a limit on the number of ‘exceptionally talented’ people we can welcome? If we’re to be one of the best places in the world for research, we need to attract as much ‘exceptional talent’ as we can – it’s not rocket science.”

Around 16% of UK universities’ science, engineering and technology staff were not from the European Union in 2008-09 (see chart, data from HESA).

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