"We're going to turn the UK into a supercharged magnet, drawing scientists like iron filings from around the world" - Boris Johnson.

While giving a speech at the Culham Science Centre, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke about his plans to expand the UK's hub of scientists and intellectuals following Brexit.

To do this, he plans to remove the cap on 'tier one' visas which currently only allow 2,000 skilled migrants into the UK each year.

On top of this, he wants officials to come up with a way to allocate automatic endorsement (subject to immigration checks) that allows researchers' families to work and live in the UK too. 

 

The Current Situation

Currently, over half of UK scientific workforce is made up of EU researchers (roughly 211,00 people), who don't need visas to work in Britain. Researchers from outside of the EU are faced with an arduous, expensive process to gain a working visa for the UK costing, on average, £8000.

Following our departure from the EU, researchers from European countries will be expected to go through the same process, which has sparked fears of a scientific skills shortage.

 

Concerns

Researchers in the UK are already worrying about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. The loss of scientific collaborations with EU institutes, alongside the loss of European funding, is predicted to impact our science industries.

It's thought that the UK will be unable to participate in EU-funded Horizon projects and that British scientists may not be involved at all if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

Mr Johnson addressed these concerns by saying "the UK will continue to collaborate in great scientific projects under any circumstances".

 

What Does the Future Hold?

It's nice to see the PM already addressing these concerns and prominent scientific figures, like Dr Daniel Rathbone (assistant director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering), have welcomed the Prime Ministers "powerful message".

But, like us, they look forward to seeing the finer details of these proposals. Science is a collaborative enterprise and we're hopeful that these proposals will keep our science industries thriving for years to come!

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