FT letter: UK must remain open to highly skilled international talent

The UK must continue to be open to highly skilled international talent if it is to compete on a global scale, business leaders, universities and charities have said today.

The leaders  including the heads of the CBI, the Royal Society and the British Medical Association – signed a letter published in the Financial Times, saying that the UK must have policies that support international collaboration and a visa and immigration system that enables organisations 'to draw from a global talent pool'.


Letter published in the Financial Times:

Sir, In the Autumn Statement, the government made clear that it recognises the fundamental value of science, research and innovation for the UK’s economic growth, productivity and global standing. However, if the UK is to compete on an international scale and become the go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors, it is imperative that the government also recognises and supports the crucial role of international collaboration and access to highly skilled, overseas talent.

To build on our position as a world leader in science and innovation, investment in research and development and the continued development of local skills and capability must be a priority. This must go hand in hand, however, with policies that support international collaboration. This requires a reformed visa and immigration system that enables all industries, the health service, universities and charities to draw from a global talent pool. International researchers must be able to choose the UK without facing unnecessary barriers or bureaucracy, and the UK must provide access to competitive funding and internationally collaborative networks.

Whatever our future relationship with the EU, these key ingredients for success must not be compromised. We must continue to be open to people, skills and ideas from across Europe and the world.

Dame Julia Goodfellow

President, Universities UK

Simon Walker

Director General, Institute of Directors

Carolyn Fairbairn

Director General, Confederation of British Industry

Anthony Impey

Chair of Skills and Apprenticeships, Federation of Small Businesses

Dr Adam Marshall

Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan

President, The Royal Society

Dr Mark Porter

Council Chair, British Medical Association

John Kampfner

CEO, Creative Industries Federation

Sir Martin Sorrell

CEO, WPP

Julian David

CEO, techUK

Jasmine Whitbread

CEO, London First

Russ Shaw

Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates

Lord Karan Bilimoria

Chairman, UK India Business Council; Founder and Chairman, Cobra Beer

Sam Laidlaw

Chair, Neptune Oil & Gas; Chair, National Centre for Universities and Business

Professor Sir Keith Burnett

President, Science Council

Professor Sir John Holman

President, Royal Society of Chemistry

Dr Sarah Main

Executive Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering

Abdul Rahim

Director, Vision2020

Aisling Burnand

CEO, Association of Medical Research Charities

Janet Davies

CEO & General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing

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