Oh dear, another year, a new (ish) Government, the UK on the brink of Brexit and the Government still think that it’s words that are important rather than actions! On the surface the recent article in The Times entitled “UK open to world’s best talent, says Boris Johnson, sounds encouraging, but begs the question weren’t we always open?

Am far from convinced that giving something a impressive sounding title like Global Talent Visa is all that it will take to attract the next generation of PhD Students. Think they would want to see Universities that stretched the mind rather than just banked the cash. An infrastructure that was in place and working, not a series of promises and let’s face it if we can’t build a railway between London and Birmingham on time and within budget we are stuffed, and should be taking lessons on this from China, who incidentally back in 2008 bought a significant amount of Spain’s sovereign debt as they became one of the EU PIIGS, and at the same time imported a huge amount of Spain’s engineering resource to advice on how to build ….. railways.

Will we ever learn?

Boris Johnson said that Britain needed to invest in cutting edge research.


Mr Johnson in sharp conflict with business as Britain prepares to leave the European
Union at 11pm on Friday.


The prime minister appears determined to face down industry protests over
immigration as he sells his vision of a more agile country able to exploit new
technologies.


It was announced last night that research funding for advanced mathematics will be
boosted, with cash for PhD students doubled in the latest sign of the influence of
 Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s senior adviser. The new Global Talent visa will
replace the so-called Tier 1 visa and will be available to a wider range of people, who
will face fewer restrictions on bringing family members with them to Britain.


The prime minister said: “The UK has a proud history of scientific discovery but to
lead the field and face the challenges of the future we need to continue to invest in
talent and cutting edge research.


“That is why, as we leave the EU, I want to send a message that the UK is open to the
most talented minds in the world, and stands ready to support them to turn their ideas
into reality.”


Last night a leading mathematician hailed as “unprecedented” the £60 million-a-
year uplift in research funding, saying that it would allow the UK to overtake
China and become the best place in the world for maths.


“It demonstrates a deep grasp of the current government of what is needed to do in
order for our country to be one of the most prosperous countries in the 21st century,”
Ivan Fesenko, a professor of pure mathematics at the University of Nottingham, said.
“Funding maths will imply higher quality of maths awareness of scientists and much
better opportunities for us to lead in the fourth industrial revolution: AI and related
things are fundamentally based on maths and its applications
. Demand for the
mathematical sciences has never been so high and it is growing. A rate of return on
investment in maths is now 19 times higher than in physics and 7 times higher than in
engineering.”

Both initiatives are launched on the eve of an official report that clears the way for a
clampdown on low-skilled migrants from the EU. Priti Patel, the home secretary,
dismissed claims that the new restrictions would hurt the economy and said
businesses had become “far too reliant” on “cheap labour from the EU”.


The Tories promised a post-Brexit immigration “Australian-style points system”
during the election but are waiting until a report from the independent Migration
Advisory Committee is published this week before drafting detailed legislation. Mr
Johnson is still considering what to do about the £30,000 minimum salary threshold,
which could be scrapped.


The report will bring to a head an issue that pits Mr Johnson and Ms Patel against
many business groups already worried about customs checks and higher tariffs
after Brexit.


In an uncompromising message, Ms Patel said that it was “about time” companies
invested in British workers and new equipment instead of low-skilled EU migrants.
“We are absolutely determined to change the immigration system, end the complexity
of the immigration system, have simpler rules, have a points-based system where we
can absolutely have people that bring the right kind of skills for our labour market,
meet the right kind of labour market tests, but also bring the right kind of skills that
we need in our country — promoting the brightest and the best,” Ms Patel told Sky
News.


Opposition parties questioned whether the Global Talent visa was little more than a
gimmick, pointing out that the cap of 2,000 admissions under Tier 1 had never been
hit. In 2018, 525 applicants were admitted under the scheme.


Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrats home affairs spokeswoman, said the move
did nothing for thousands of researchers needed in Britain, adding: “If the government
is serious about championing UK science, it must prioritise continued mobility as part of
our future relationship with the EU.”

Francis Elliott, Political Editor, The Times, 27th January 2020

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