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Overseas talent ‘crucial’ for UK to compete on international scale, say academic and business leaders

The UK must keep its doors open to international talent and collaboration, urged the country’s top academic and business leaders in a letter published in the Financial Times recently.

In the letter, signatories such as Universities UK president Julia Goodfellow and British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall called on Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration to implement policies which would support international collaboration.

Among these policies would be a reformed visa and immigration system that would “allow all industries, the health service, universities, and charities to draw from a global talent pool”.

In the recent Autumn Statement, the government recognised “the fundamental value of science, research and innovation for the UK’s economic growth, productivity, and global standing,” they wrote.

In order for the UK to remain competitive on an international scale, however, they argued that the government must acknowledge and support the key role of “international collaboration and access to highly-skilled overseas talent”, alongside continued investment in research and development and further development of local skills and capability.

“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,” they added.

While Brexit was not directly mentioned in the letter, it was alluded to, as the letter said: “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.”

The letter’s other 18 signatories include the director general of the Institute of Directors, Simon Walker; director general of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn; council chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Mark Porter; and Science Council president Professor Keith Burnett.

Image via Shutterstock

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