SCI CEO supports Sir Patrick Vallance’s call for visa rethink

11 July 2024 | Muriel Cozier

Image: © Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

‘We need to be as competitive as other countries in terms of attracting that talent.’

The UK’s science minister Sir Patrick Vallance has used an interview on BBC Radio’s The World at One to stress the importance of the UK’s place in the international science community. ‘People need to know that the UK is open for science partnership.’ Vallance said.

Welcoming the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe – the European Union’s research and innovation programme – he said that developing the science required to make progress needed knowledge from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Asked if UK science would suffer as a result of visa rules being tightened Sir Patrick said: ‘We know that there is an impact and a difficulty in some of those schemes, so that means an opportunity is there to try and make this easier again for people who do come in to give contributions to scientific knowledge creation and indeed to companies. We have to be realistic about how we do that. We need to be as competitive as other countries in terms of attracting that talent.’

He added that there were a lot of different visa issues that had to be looked at, including the cost. ‘We need to think about how we make the environment right for the people we want to have here contributing to science,’ Sir Patrick added.

Sir Patrick was awarded the SCI Lister Medal in 2022.

Welcoming Sir Patrick’s remarks, Sharon Todd, SCI’s CEO said: ‘Sir Patrick is absolutely spot on. SCI has been calling for an improved visa system for the last year. Sir Patrick’s experience in the science-based industries means he understands that to tackle global challenges, you need global solutions.

‘The science and innovation industries are cross-border. Industrial scientists need to be able to travel into and out of the UK, if they are to work collaboratively on answers to cancer and disease, sustainable food production, clean energy and many other needs.’

SCI’s Manifesto for a Science Industrial Science and Innovation Strategy calls for a more flexible visa scheme for scientists who should be able to make their long-term home in the UK while being able to travel for long periods as part of their employment.

‘Innovation and science is the bedrock of British industry and Sir Patrick is right – allowing it to thrive again is the solution to growth,’ she added.

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