Proposed cap on non-EU immigration – impact for medical research

Posted on August 20, 2010 by

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The government has put a temporary cap on non-EU economic migrants to the UK through Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system. They are currently running two consultations with a view to announcing a permanent cap at the end of the year to come into force in April 2011.

This is part of an initiative to bring net immigration to the UK down from the ‘hundreds of thousands’ – it currently stands at about 160,000 – to the ‘tens of thousands’.

A lot of international scientists enter the UK to work in our research institutions through the tiers the government is proposing to cap. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, non-EU staff now form over 10% of the total academic workforce in UK universities, therefore a cap that impacts on their ability to come and work in the UK could have an adverse effect on the research we can fund in the UK.

The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) and the Migration Advisory Committee are currently consulting on the proposed cap, how it should be applied and where it should be set. These consultations close on 17 September and 7 September respectively. The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee is also conducting an inquiry into the proposed cap and has heard from the minister for immigration and head of the UKBA. They are inviting written submissions to the inquiry by 27 August 2010.

There is concern about the possible impact of these changes across the science and research community and they are working together to raise these. The Campaign for Science and Engineering has published a briefing.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research is considering hosting a discussion to raise this issue among key parliamentarians when the House returns in early autumn.