Press Release: The Academy of Social Sciences responds to the Government’s plan to devise a new ‘fast track’ visa system for global science talent

9 August 2019

9 August 2019, London: Yesterday, 8 August 2019, the Government made an announcement about its plans to develop a ‘fast track’ visa system for global science talent, and confirmed some interim plans for replacing EU Horizon 2020 funding through the UKRI if the UK left the EU without a deal.

While the Academy of Social Sciences welcomes this announcement as a step in the right direction, we have serious concerns that it does not go far enough to recognise the needs of sustaining the UK’s strong research base. As Sharon Witherspoon, Head of Policy at the Academy of Social science and its Campaign says “The Academy of Social Science welcomes any move to ensure that UK science – including social science – can attract world-class talent. But excellence in science also requires strong foundations – younger scientists, research technicians and analysts. Streamlining the visa process so that universities and research institutes can act flexibly will be every bit as important as Tier 1 visas.

As our World of Talent report shows, many social science disciplines (including those that contribute most to the UK’s economy, and to the analysis of social issues like education, health, ageing and welfare) have high levels of international-origin staff and researchers, about half from EU countries.

So we believe it is in the national interest for government to be clear that it will include all social science disciplines in their immigration plans, and in their interim plans for European Research Council and Horizon 2020 stopgaps, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

These latter are of course only short-term measures. Our research shows that the social sciences have benefitted from EU funding in such important areas as healthy ageing, economics, ethics and law, environmental behaviour and so on. These are global issues, requiring global research, networks and funding.  So a longer-term plan for supporting this kind of research and the networks it needs will also be essential.”


For further information, interviews or photos contact:

Aarti Basnyat
Communications Manager
Academy of Social Sciences/Campaign for Social Sciences
+44 (0) 20 7682 4663
E: [email protected]

Note to Editors:

About the Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign
The Academy of Social Sciences is the national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. Its mission is to promote social science in the United Kingdom for the public benefit. The Academy is composed of 1313 individual Fellows, 44 Learned Societies, and a number of affiliates, together representing nearly 90,000 social scientists. Fellows are distinguished scholars and practitioners from academia and the public and private sectors. Most learned societies in the social sciences in the UK are represented within the Academy.

The Academy of Social Sciences’ Campaign for Social Science was launched to raise the profile of social science in the public, media and Parliament. Its activities include lobbying government, organising events, promoting social sciences in the media and monitoring the health of academia in the UK.