Imperial College President warning on academic visas

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The President of Imperial College London, Professor Alice Gast, has raised concerns that the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit has resulted in academics wasting brain-power worrying about visas rather than focussing on research. Prof Gast - a chemical engineer and former President of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA - stated in an interview with the FT that the lack of clarity around the Government's post-Brexit immigration policy, along side home secretary Amber Rudd's suggested clamp-down on international student visas, was "dangerous for science".

This sentiment is in line with a recent report from the House of Lords, in which the Lords Science and Technology Committee stresses the importance of freedom of movement and a need to ensure that the UK continues to attract the best scientific talent; the report recommends that the Government recognise the distinction between students and other immigrants and treat student numbers separately when implementing immigration policy.

On the topic of research funding, Professor Gast highlighted the collaborative work that Imperial has already undertaken with other research institutions in Europe, the US and China through a series of seed funds. The London-based university currently receives 14% of its research funding (£52m per year) from the EU, and whilst the UK Treasury has agreed to fund research projects that have already won grants from the EU's Horizon 2020 programme - a multi-billion pound science and innovation pot - Gast's remarks allude to a contingency plan that is being developed by the university to hedge against the threat of future R&D underinvestment by a post-Brexit Government.


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