In May, the British government launched an expedited visa route for winners in the fields of science, engineering, humanities and medicine who wish to work in the UK. This approach makes it easier for some scholars to apply for a Global Talent visa-it only requires one application, and does not need to meet conditions such as grants from UK research and innovation funding agencies or job opportunities in UK institutions.
At present, the number of scholars eligible for this path has exceeded 70 awards, including the Turing Award, the L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science International Award, and various awards issued by professional or member institutions in the UK and other places.
“The winners of these awards have reached the pinnacle of their careers and they have provided the UK with a lot of things,” Home Secretary Priti PaTEL said when launching the program in May. “This is exactly what our new points system is designed for. -Attract the best and smartest people based on their skills and talents, not where they are from.”
However, a Freedom of Information request by “New Scientisit” showed that in the six months after the launch of the program, no one who worked in science, engineering, humanities or medicine actually applied for a visa through this channel.
Andre Geim of the University of Manchester, UK, in the next ten years or so, the chance of a Nobel Prize or Turing Prize winner moving to the UK to work is zero. Gaim won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for his work on graphene. “He said: “The plan itself is a joke-it cannot be discussed seriously. “The government believes that if you use optimistic verbal diarrhea to cheer up British science – it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent.”
“Frankly speaking, no one has applied for this elite program. I am not surprised at all,” said Jessica Wade, a materials scientist at Imperial College London and a diversity activist in science. “The chances of British scientists getting European funding are uncertain. We are not very attractive to European students because they have to pay international fees, our pensions are being cut, and science jobs in the UK are both scarce and unstable.”
“Obviously, this is just another gimmick of an over-spinning and under-delivering government,” said Chi Onwurah, the shadow science minister. Not surprising.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs told New Scientist that the well-known reward pathway makes it easier for those at the pinnacle of their careers to come to the UK. “This is just an option under our global talent route. Since its launch in February 2020, we have received thousands of applications through this route, and this situation continues to rise.”
Dorothy Bishop, a neuropsychologist at the University of Oxford, said that other visa pathways are already a fast track for top scientists, and it was a strange move to launch this program at the beginning.
Christopher Jackson, a geoscientist at the University of Manchester, believes that the idea of prioritizing science prize winners in the UK is flawed. It is reported that in 2020 he will become the first black scientist in the UK to preside over the Royal Society’s Christmas lecture. Jackson said that these awards are inherently biased, and the immigration system based on these awards will only replicate the lack of diversity in science. “How we measure excellence is very vague. These awards benefit certain people-those who are white, male, heterosexual, bisexual-and reward them based on their privileges.”
It is reported that only 23 of the more than 600 Nobel Prize winners in science since 1901 are women. There has never been a black winner in a scientific discipline awarded an award. “Research shows that most science prize winners are white men of European descent and tend to work in American universities,” Jackson said.