The government plans to create a new cross-departmental ‘Office for Talent’ to help leading researchers and scientists to live and work in the UK post-Brexit. Its UK Research and Development Roadmap builds on a budget previously announced in March, that will prioritise ground-breaking research, attract global talent and cut any unnecessary red tape.
The aim is to make the UK the “best place in the world for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live, work and innovate”, according to Business secretary Alok Sharma. The plan highlights the government’s goal to make science a priority after Brexit and echoes its desire to double public research and development funding by 2024. The government also wants to see a significant reduction in the bureaucracy that hinders research while also boosting the diversity of the UK’s research workforce.
Science road map
Following the announcement of a £280 million support package for researchers who have seen their funding cut as a result of COVID-19, the road map sets aside an additional £300 million for upgrading scientific infrastructure.
Several groups representing scientists have warned the government that leaving the EU, especially with no formal deal on the table, would be detrimental to research and science in the UK. However, while the road map is more of a vision at this stage than a specific plan, the government hopes it will help to address some of the uncertainties created by Brexit.
The government has already introduced a global talent visa to fast-track technicians and scientists through immigration if they have a successful grant application from a recognised funder. The road map now pledges to review visa costs and widen eligibility.
Securing overseas talent
Based in 10 Downing Street, the Office for Talent will have teams across government departments and will review the effectiveness of the current rules and ensure the immigration system delivers good customer service and an efficient, easy and quick process. It also wants people coming to the UK to have a better understanding of the opportunities available and eliminate any barriers they may face.
The government has pledged to:
• Invest £300 million to upgrade scientific infrastructure
• Create an Innovation Expert Group to improve how the government supports research
• Increase international collaboration
• Maintain a close relationship with European partners while agreeing on a fair deal for the UK’s involvement in EU research and development
There will also be a new graduate route to enable international students who complete PhDs from next summer to remain in the UK to live and work for up to three years after their studies. International students who complete undergraduate and master degrees will have the opportunity to stay in the UK for two years after completing their studies.
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