According to LabNews.co.uk, approximately one in seven science and engineering academics currently in Higher Education are from outside the EU.
Therefore, the proposed immigration cap, which will limit the number of non-EU immigrants to 21,000, could restrain the number of talented scientists and engineers entering the UK.
In fact, according to The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), the cap will eliminate roughly a third of skilled worker visas but “if the rules are correctly calibrated, we hope that enough scientists and engineers with be able to enter the UK to meet the sector’s needs.”
In an attempt to salvage the situation, CaSE will be working in partnership with the UK Border Agency in order to help develop a system which can identify talent. This system is due to be published in April 2011. Skilled worker visas will be split into Tier 1 (Exceptional talent), Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT).
Tier 1: This will be limited to 1,000 people per year. These people will not need to have a job offer to enter the UK. CaSE are arguing for top scientists and engineers to be exempt from Tier 1.
Tier 2: These applications must be accompanied by a job offer, a degree-level qualification and intermediate level English. There will be 20,700 visas available throughout the year. Applications will be evaluated on the following:
- The quality of the application
- Whether the job is on the Shortage Occupation list (this includes many science and engineering professions)
- The salary of their new job – this could cause problems for talented scientists and engineers as they will traditionally command lower salaries than people with equivalent skills. CaSE have stated, “We must not continue with a system where researchers are discriminated against because they choose a relatively low-paying career. Instead they should be selected on the basis of their ability to contribute to the UK.”
Tier 2 (ICT) – This will allow multinational companies to transfer their staff to the UK. This will not count towards the immigration cap.
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