Not a single scientist applied to a UK visa scheme for Nobel prize laureates

Since its introduction six months ago, no scientist has applied for a UK government visa system for Nobel prize laureates and other award winners, according to a report by New Scientist. Scientists have criticized the plan, which has been labeled as “a farce.”

The government announced in May that award-winners in science, engineering, the humanities, and medicine who wish to work in the UK can apply for a fast-track visa. This prestigious prize route makes it easier for some academics to apply for a Global Talent visa because it only requires one application and does not require academics to meet conditions like receiving a grant from the UK Research and Innovation funding body or accepting a job offer from a UK organization.

The Turing Award, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards, and different gongs presented by professional or membership groups both in the UK and internationally are among the nearly 70 honors that qualify academics for this path.

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When the coveted prize system debuted in May, home secretary Priti Patel stated, “Winners of these prizes have achieved the peak of their careers and they have so much to give the UK. This is precisely what our new points-based immigration system was created for: to attract the best and brightest based on their abilities and aptitude, not their origins.”

However, a freedom of information request by New Scientist found that no one working in research, engineering, the humanities, or medicine had requested a visa through this method in the six months since the initiative was introduced.

Only 23 women are among the approximately 600 Nobel Laureates in science since 1901. In the field of science, no black laureate has ever received an award. According to Jackson, “studies demonstrate that the majority of scientific prize recipients are white males of European heritage who work at American colleges.”

Those who win some of the other prizes that are eligible for the high prize visa route show similar trends. Since 2015, there have been no women among the five recipients of the Institute of Physics Isaac Newton Medal and Prize. Since 2014, just one woman has received the Prince Philip Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering.