UK Global Talent fast-track visa for prime scientists was given to only one individual in first 12 months

A visa scheme supposed to encourage Nobel prize laureates and different scientific award winners to work within the UK has attracted only one profitable applicant since its launch a 12 months in the past


1 June 2022

Nobel prize

The Nobel prize

Zhencong Chen / Alamy

Just one individual has efficiently utilized to a UK authorities visa scheme for Nobel prize laureates and different scientific award winners since its launch a 12 months in the past, New Scientist can reveal.

In May 2021, the federal government launched a fast-track visa route for award winners within the fields of science, engineering, the humanities and medication who wish to work within the UK. The thought was to make it simpler for some teachers to use for the Global Talent visa established in 2020. The streamlined route requires solely a easy utility, without having to satisfy situations comparable to a grant or job supply from a UK organisation.

But a freedom of data request by New Scientist has revealed that within the 12 months because the scheme’s introduction, only one individual has efficiently acquired a visa this manner.

Despite being requested, the UK Home Office didn’t reveal how many individuals had utilized for a visa by this scheme. A freedom of data request by New Scientist in November 2021 revealed that nobody had utilized in its first six months.

The Home Office was unable to disclose the precise nature of the prize held by the profitable applicant, nor their nation of origin, as this may permit them to be recognized in a breach of information safety guidelines. Most of the eligible prizes for the science, engineering, the humanities and medication route are scientific in nature, though the Nobel prize for literature additionally falls on this class.

The scheme additionally has fast-track routes for prizewinners exterior of science, such because the Grammy award in music or the Oscars in movie. The Home Office mentioned that one different individual had efficiently utilized for a visa by one in every of these routes, however once more was unable to supply additional particulars.

“I am surprised indeed, but mostly by the fact that even a single person found this special visa process helpful,” says Andre Geim on the University of Manchester, UK, who received a Nobel prize in 2010 for his work on graphene.

Richard Catlow at University College London and a former overseas secretary of the UK’s Royal Society says he’s unsurprised by the discovering. “People who win such awards are generally not very mobile and don’t want to uproot themselves and their families unless they’ve got a very good reason to,” he says.

“The real issue facing UK science is to be attractive to people at all career stages, especially those early in their careers,” says Catlow. “It’s a misconception that science is all about big stars – it’s about teams.”

Peter Coveney at University College London calls this “just the tip of the iceberg” within the altering panorama of educational recruiting within the UK. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to recruit good people into positions,” he says.

“Many European researchers who are in the UK are leaving,” says Coveney, following the UK’s determination to go away the European Union. European researchers don’t wish to come to the UK proper now, he says.

“The government isn’t serious about British science, instead it just has gimmicks like the visa route,” says shadow science minister Chi Onwurah. “The biggest barrier to attracting talented people to the UK is the government’s consistent failure to support the university sector, students and researchers as well as an increasingly hostile environment for migrants generally.”

A Home Office spokesperson informed New Scientist that the celebrated prizes route makes it simpler for these on the “pinnacle of their career” to come back to the UK. “It is just one option under our Global Talent route, through which we have received thousands of applications since its launch in February 2020 and this continues to rise,” they mentioned.

The spokesperson additionally mentioned that because of the exclusivity of the prizes that qualify underneath the pathway, the Home Office didn’t count on a excessive quantity of purposes.

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