U.K. Visa Plan Fails to Lure Any Top Scientists, Report Says
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s plan to lure Nobel prize laureates and other award-winning scientists through a special visa has received no applicants since it was launched in May, according to New Scientist.
The plan was designed to make it easier for top academics in the fields of science, humanities and medicine to immigrate to the U.K. by speeding up the application process and scrapping the need for a job offer. A freedom of information request by the London-based science publication showed that no eligible candidate has so far applied.
“Having precisely zero people apply for this elitist scheme doesn’t surprise me at all,” Jessica Wade, a material scientist at Imperial College London, told New Scientist. “U.K. scientists’ access to European funding is uncertain, we’re not very attractive to European students as they have to pay international fees, and our pensions are being cut.”
More than 70 accolades qualify academics for the science visa, including Nobel prizes and the Turing Award.
A British Home Office spokesperson defended the program, saying it’s one of several options under a Global Talent visa, which has attracted “thousands of applications” since its launch in February 2020. The Royal Academy of Engineering was satisfied with the number of applications it has recently received across various immigration routes, Director of Programmes Andrew Clark told New Scientist.
The idea of a visa for science winners was flawed as it was inherently biased, University of Manchester geoscientist Christopher Jackson told the publication.
“How we measure excellence is very nebulous,” Jackson said. “These awards favor certain people -- those who are white, male, heterosexual, cis-gendered -- and reward them based on their privilege.”
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