9 October 2014
Concerns over the Conservatives’ stance towards UK migration are being voiced from many corners of society.
Nobel Prize winners, leading scientists and high-profile university professors have all spoken out against the economic and cultural losses being faced by Britain if it continues in this manner.
Yet despite these fears, David Cameron is promising still more stringent provisions for migrants to the UK, even going so far as to threaten to leave the EU unless Britain is given the power to stop migrants from poorer parts of the EU from entering the country.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has warned that unchecked migration can lead to problems regarding employment and often fuels tensions within communities that have to cope with large numbers of non-English speakers. However many authorities on the subject are calling for the government to better manage migration to the UK. It is only through such action, they argue, that the UK can hope not to fall behind in the global race to attract highly-skilled workers.
‘There is a need to look at migration and development in a more holistic way.’ – IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing
This statement from the IOM’s (International Organisation for Migration) Director General encompasses the concerns which are currently creeping out of the woodwork in the UK. Professor John O’Keefe, dual British-US citizen and recent Nobel Prize winner, has argued against governmental claims that ‘the UK is open to the brightest and best, including talented scientists and engineers’. He states that immigration rules act as a large obstacle to hiring the best scientists and that we should be thinking hard about making Britain a more welcoming place.
The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University takes a similar position as far as the UK’s policies towards international visa applicants are concerned. Professor Andrew Hamilton has lamented the fact that, following the overhaul of the student visa system by the Home Office in 2012, the number of international students attending UK universities has dropped, most markedly from India. He has also cited recent research by Oxford’s Migration Observatory which, he argues, shows the public does not link overseas student numbers with immigration issues.
A group of UK scientists have added to the barrage of criticism in a letter to the Times, wherein they claimed that visa curbs would deprive science and industry of talent:
‘The UK produces nearly 10% of the world’s scientific output with only 1% of its population; we punch above our weight because we can engage with excellence wherever it occurs. The UK must not isolate itself from the increasingly globalised world of research – British science depends on it.’
According to the myriad of grievances against governmental immigration policies, there are many fields of expertise which may suffer or are already suffering from the effects of stringent migration control. Opponents continue to kick up a media storm, urging the government to view migration from a very different angle whilst looking to support a globally competitive future.