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BSI Weekly Policy And Public Affairs Update

BSI Policy & Public Affairs Update

18 June - 22 June

Government to remove Tier 2 visa cap for doctors and nurses

As part of a long-term Government plan for the NHS, the cap on Tier 2 (General) visas for skilled workers will be lifted for doctors and nurses. The cap currently stands at 20,700, however in recent months, applications for Tier 2 visas have regularly exceeded this. This is largely due to the demands of the NHS, which accounts for around 40% of all Tier 2 visas. By excluding doctors and nurses from this cap, not only could this provide a much-needed boost of skilled workers to the NHS, but will free up additional places within the cap for those of other highly occupations such as engineers and scientists.

This move is partially in response to a letter from the British Medical Association (BMA), NHS employers and 12 royal colleges to the Home Secretary, asking for the cap to be reviewed and requesting that applications for shortage occupation roles be exempt from the visa allocation process. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months. Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the UK. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route.

"This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services.”

House of Commons Science & Technology Committee holds oral evidence session on ‘An immigration system that works for science and innovation' inquiry.

On Tuesday, the Science and Technology Committee held an oral evidence session on it recent immigration inquiry. The aim of the inquiry was to develop concrete proposals for a UK immigration system which works for science and innovation. The Committee was questioning a panel which included: Ian Robinson, Fragomen; Sarah Main, executive director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering; Louise Wren, Wellcome Trust; Vinous Ali, techUK; and Richard Catlow, The Royal Society.

All agreed on a more streamlined migration system for science, and panel members stressed the importance of a fast and affordable visa system for the recruitment of those in the science and technology sector, especially post-doctoral researchers. Not only could cost and time be a hindrance to the furtherment of research, but is also off-putting to applicants. Additionally, many researchers of all levels visit institutions in other countries for time periods ranging from weeks to years, and it was stressed that the UK visa system should be reflect this by being as flexible as possible.

To read the full transcript, as well as links to written evidence, click here. You can also read the BSI’s written evidence here.

European Commission proposes most ambitious Research and Innovation programme to date.

Horizon Europe, the EU funding programme for 2021-2027 and Horizon 2020’s successor will be the most ambitious Research programme to date. The EU commission is proposing €100bn for research and innovation for the 6-year time period. This funding programme builds upon the success of its predecessor, Horizon 2020, to which the UK, as an EU member state, currently contributes to and benefits from. An interim assessment of Horizon 2020 showed that the programme had clear benefits compared to national or regional support programmes and had awarded €31bn to 18,000 projects since May 2018 alone.

In a recent response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report ‘Brexit, Science and Innovation’, the Government stated its intention to “engage fully and constructively in the design of Framework Programme 9 (Horizon Europe)” and that they would like to “ensure that Framework Programme 9 remains open to our association”, whilst acknowledging that appropriate financial contributions would be required. This announcement from the European Commission further underscores the importance of continuing to be an active member of Horizon 2020 and being a part of Horizon Europe after Brexit whether as an associate member or otherwise.

BEIS announce £1.3bn boost in research and development investment

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced a £1.3bn boost in investment to British universities and businesses. Unveiled by business secretary Greg Clark during his speech to the International Business Festival in Liverpool, this investment will underpin the Industrial Strategy’s aims to attract and retain world-class talent, and guarantee the UK’s position at the forefront of cutting edge research. This will also go some way to achieving the Industrial Strategy’s aim of increasing research and development funding to 2.4% GDP.

Greg Clark said “International collaboration has been key to many of the most significant discoveries and breakthroughs and I want the UK to remain the go-to destination for the best scientists and innovators. We are investing in the rising stars of research and innovation to ensure the UK is where the products and technologies of tomorrow are developed.”

EU withdrawal bill passed through Parliament

After months of being ‘ping-ponged’ between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the EU withdrawal bill has been passed through Parliament. The EU withdrawal bill will transfer thousands of pieces of existing EU legislation into UK law – which may be amended, improved or scrapped at a later date - and is vital to ensuring a smooth exit from the EU.

Conversations with China

BSI Policy Manager Shannon Lacombe, has published a new blog reporting on the BSI’s recent trip to China to meeting with the Chinese Society for Immunology.

Following our strategy to build our international work and develop partnerships with more global partners, the BSI has been developing strong links with the CSI. To read more about this partnership or for more information on our international work, please contact Shannon Lacombe