The Prime Minister yesterday announced changes to immigration rules to encourage the world’s top scientists and engineers to work in the UK. Speaking from the Culham science centre in Oxfordshire, Boris Johnson instructed the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work with the scientific community to develop a new fast-track visa route for the brightest and best in their fields.

In addition to immigration changes to support a reinvigorated research economy, the Government also announced that it would provide additional funding for scientists and researchers who have sought EU funding before Brexit, including schemes delivered by the European Research Council.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Engineering, with its world class talent, universities, companies and facilities, should be at the heart of delivering renewed prosperity to the UK – I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister’s vision for the future chimes with this.  Engineering companies in the UK, from large corporates to small innovative start-ups, recruit from a global talent pool. They play a crucial role in ensuring that, through innovation, we can realise the value from our research base. To ensure these companies can continue to flourish, our immigration system also needs to embrace innovators. A fast-track immigration system for talented researchers and technicians will set the UK on the right track to maintain the UK’s position as a science and engineering superpower, home of innovations from the CT scanner to the Raspberry Pi, and reassure the world that the UK remains an open and welcoming country.

“However, EU research and innovation programmes have made vital contribution to the success of the UK’s research and innovation base. A no-deal Brexit could dramatically increase our chances of being unable to participate in these programmes. Step changes in both the UK’s international engagement and research and innovation investment are needed to achieve the government’s target of 2.4% of GDP invested in R&D and its associated economic and societal benefits.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession. 

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 0207 766 0636; email: jane.sutton@raeng.org.uk