Professor Sir Andre Geim, Russian-born Nobel prize-winning scientist, has criticised recent UK immigration policy changes.
The Coalition government has introduced a number of restrictions to UK work permits along with changes to student visas and family migration routes since coming to Parliament. Professor Geim is particularly concerned about the introduction of a minimum salary requirement of £31,000 and tighter student visa rules, which he claimed could put future scientific breakthroughs at risk by blocking talented academics from working with British universities.
"Most students already do not plan to stay in this country – around ten per cent will. I can't stress enough how stupid it is that the Government has put immigrants and overseas students in the same category. [Education] is a billion-dollar industry and overseas students should be made welcome." he said.
Professor Geim himself came to the UK in the early 1990s from his native Russia after receiving a work permit to take up a post at Nottingham University. He later worked with a team of Russian and Chinese scientists at Manchester University, where they isolated graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms similar in arrangement to graphite.
He added: "To put a minimum salary requirement in place might undermine students' chances to secure certain positions after graduation, and I can't see a reason for this as there are enough restrictions in place already. When employers consider somebody for a position they already consider that to hire a foreign national will cause additional problems because of the language barrier."
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, recently expressed similar concerns, noting that he would like students to be exempt from the immigration figures in light of Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to reduce immigration to the "tens of thousands".