07 February 2013

Leading scientists issue warning over UK immigration changes

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Proposed changes to UK visa and immigration policy have prompted some of the country's leading scientists to write to Immigration Mark Harper, warning him of the changes' potential damages.

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The letter warns that the removal of several occupations - including some medical professionals - from the shortage occupations list could be damaging to the UK.

Proposed changes have included the removal of several highly qualified jobs from the shortage occupation list including heart specialists, petroleum engineers, paediatricians, radiologists and some teachers. Non-EU applicants with skills listed on the shortage occupation list can obtain a UK visa easier.

The removal of such highly skilled occupations has raised concern from within the science community, who have written to Mr Harper warning him of excluding foreign citizens who 'save lives in our hospitals'.

The letter, published by the Campaign for Science and Engineering and signed by the Royal Society as well as a former Government Chief Scientist and current Astronomer Royal, says the jobs are on the shortage list as the UK is 'not training enough of them', making recruiting them from abroad of 'strategic importance to the UK'.

"The skilled immigrants in these occupations help drive economic growth," reads the letter. "They keep Britain's lights on by working in our nuclear industry. They save lives in our hospitals and they educate our children."

The Government’s reasoning for removing the occupations from the shortage list lies in the hope that it will push British education and training institutions to produce more home grown talent but, as most of the jobs to be removed have only been on the list for two years, the letter warns this is not enough.

"Two years is simply far too short a timescale for even beginning to address structural problems within the UK's workforce."


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