Why the Government needs to do more to attract international researchers – Cancer Research UK

In the face of these difficulties, the government has highlighted the Global Talent Visa (GTV) as the key to attracting and retaining international researchers.

The GTV was introduced in 2020 as a dedicated route for researchers. This was a positive step in attracting the talent we need to deliver world class cancer research, as it doesn’t have a minimum salary requirement and gives the best and brightest the freedom to change jobs and bring dependents.  

But there are still challenges: 

The GTV is not insulated from the cost increases: These researchers still face the increasing upfront visa fees and Immigration Health Surcharge. 

There’s not enough awareness of it: For the GTV to attract great researchers from around the world, the Government needs to do more to advertise and explain it. Currently, researchers and research organisations aren’t clear who meets the definition of ‘global talent’. 

Some adjustments may also be needed to the GTV application process and eligibility requirements to make it accessible to all the researchers and roles we need. 

How can we attract more talent?

Simply put, the UK can’t be a leading science nation if it can’t attract leading researchers. The Government must change course to ensure it doesn’t put its own targets out of reach. 

With a UK General Election likely this year, we have set out our recommendations for the next Government in Longer, better lives: our manifesto for cancer research and care. Crucially, it includes a plan to make the immigration system is more affordable, straightforward and accessible for researchers – ensuring the UK is more welcoming to international talent. 

And this week we’ve published a further paper with more detail on how the UK Government can act on issues that impact cancer researchers. It’s a roadmap for attracting international talent, creating an equal and diverse workforce, and making careers more supportive. We know that people are at the heart of cancer research, so to beat cancer sooner, we need to enable bright minds to thrive. To find out more about how the UK can address these issues, read our report on Strengthening the UK research workforce to beat cancer.  

As one of the UK’s leading research bodies, we will also continue to investigate the impact of these recent visa changes on our research community, and share our insights to increase Government awareness of the consequences for research. 

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