Scotland’s national academy of science has called on the UK Government to take a “flexible approach” to immigration post-Brexit or risk harming the country’s reputation for research and innovation.
There should be a positive message of “open for business” that makes clear that the UK needs and values skilled migrants, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) said in a submission to the House of Commons select committee on science and technology.
MPs on the committee have previously called on the UK government to strike a deal with the European Union on post-Brexit research collaboration by October 2018, warning that otherwise “it cannot be taken for granted that the UK will retain its status as a science superpower”.
Student numbers should also be exempt from the UK Government’s target of reducing net migration, the RSE said in its submission, otherwise Scottish universities will risk losing their competitive edge.
Professor David Cole-Hamilton, who helped draft the RSE’s submission, said: “The international standing and economic importance of UK research and innovation mean it is paramount that we continue to be able to attract and retain talented individuals, wherever they may be located, to work and study in our academic and industrial organisations - otherwise we risk damaging our reputation and competitiveness.
“We need to make sure that the message we send out is one that makes clear that we need and highly value the contribution that migrants make, particularly in supporting UK research and innovation.
“It will be important to ensure that UK immigration policy fully reflects Scotland’s needs, including its distinct demographic challenges, and consideration should be given to strengthening Scottish input on the Migration Advisory Committee.”