A Home Office scheme to attract Nobel-garlanded scientists and other prize winners has drawn no applicants since its launch in May.
The fast-track ‘global talent’ scheme was touted by Home Secretary Priti Patel as an example of her post-Brexit points-based immigration system.
But a freedom of information request from New Scientist revealed it had flopped so far.
Professor Andre Geim, a University of Manchester Nobel winner, said the scheme was a ‘joke’ with ‘zero chance’ of a leading scientist coming to the UK for at least a decade.
Launched in May, the scheme removed barriers such as requirements to secure research funding before arrival.
The fast-track ‘global talent’ scheme was touted by Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) as an example of her post-Brexit points-based immigration system
More than 70 prizes are recognised by the scheme, including the Turing Award, the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science International Awards and those awarded by professional or membership bodies both in the UK and elsewhere.
Priti Patel said when launching the scheme in May that ‘Winners of these awards have reached the pinnacle of their career and they have so much to offer the UK.
She said: ‘This is exactly what our new point-based immigration system was designed for – attracting the best and brightest based on the skills and talent they have, not where they’ve come from.’
New Scientist revealed that in the six months since the scheme was launched, no one working in science, engineering, the humanities or medicine has actually applied for a visa through this route.
The Home Office said yesterday applications had been received in recent days.
Professor Geim said: ‘Chances that a single Nobel or Turing laureate would move to the UK to work are zero for the next decade or so.
‘The scheme itself is a joke – it cannot be discussed seriously,’ he told the magazine adding: ‘The government thinks if you pump up UK science with a verbal diarrhoea of optimism – it can somehow become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
New Scientist revealed that in the six months since the scheme was launched, no one working in science, engineering, the humanities or medicine has actually applied for a visa through this route (file photo)
Dr Jessica Wade, a a material scientist at Imperial College London and a diversity in science campaigner. ‘Frankly, having precisely zero people apply for this elitist scheme doesn’t surprise ‘UK scientists’ access to European funding is uncertain, we’re not very attractive to European students as they have to pay international fees, our pensions are being cut and scientific positions in the UK are both rare and precarious.’
Shadow science minister Chi Onwurah said: ‘It’s clear this is just another gimmick from a government that over-spins and under delivers.
‘It is not surprising that the government has failed so comprehensively to attract scientists from abroad, given their lack of consistent support for scientists here.’