Fears over visa opt-out

November 9, 2007

The Government was warned this week that it risks undermining the UK's status as an international destination for researchers after it failed to implement legislation that would have made it easier for overseas academics to work here.

The deadline for putting into national law a 2005 European Union directive setting out an admissions procedure - the so-called researchers' visa - would have been the middle of this month, but the UK opted out on the grounds that this interfered with its right to set immigration policies.

"The UK is keen to be seen as an international destination for science, which seems at odds with a decision not to put in place legislation that would make it easier for scientists to come to work in Europe," a source at the European Commission told The Times Higher . But a Home Office spokesman stressed that the UK had the choice as to whether to opt in to the legislation. "We continue to retain the right to make decisions on those who enter the UK," he said.

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