Imperial College London

Visa reform needed to avoid uncertainty, says President Gast


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Imperial's global community and collaborations make it the UK's most international university.

The UK should reform its visa system now to provide clarity ahead of the Brexit negotiation process, Alice Gast told the Financial Times.

In an interview with the FT, Professor Gast said: “It’s the uncertainty that’s the biggest challenge, and that’s why I think we should figure out some visa and immigration policies now, no matter what happens and how Brexit is negotiated, because people need to have a sight to the future.”

We could take this opportunity to expand from our Horizon 2020 roots

– Professor Alice Gast


She said we should “not have this sector spending a huge amount of its intellectual capital, which is so important, worrying about Brexit.”

The government has an opportunity to reform the visa system to be more welcoming to leading international academics, students and graduates, especially those with expertise in science, technology, engineering and medicine. However, any erosion in visa rules would be "really dangerous for science," Professor Gast told the newspaper. 

Attracting talent

She also spoke about Imperial’s work to engage corporate partners on visa policy, given industry’s shared goal of identifying and attracting globally mobile talent.  

On research funding, Professor Gast spoke about Imperial’s efforts to build new research collaborations in Europe, the United States and China through a series of seed funds. If the government takes a similarly global approach,  “We could take this opportunity to expand from our Horizon 2020 roots and look at ways of getting Europe, the US, Australia, other great collaborators of ours together . . . to really institutionalise the collaborations we already have,” she added. 

The interview follows Professor Gast’s appointment to the Mayor of London’s Brexit Advisory Panel.  Other recent interventions on Brexit include a series of meetings with senior politicians, as well as interviews with the Evening Standard and Le Figaro, a comment piece in the Wall Street Journal, and a letter to the Economist.

The full FT interview can be read on page two of today’s newspaper and online

Photo credit: Thomas Angus.


Andrew Scheuber

Andrew Scheuber
Communications Division

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