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Academics retain visa-free access to UK

26 June 2008

Academics retain visa-free access to UK

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed confirmation today that academic staff will continue to have visa-free access to the United Kingdom for periods of up to twelve months.

The British Government has been considering reducing the period of visa-free entry to the UK from twelve to three months for academic visitors and from six to three months for tourists and business visitors. However, the British Home Office has now confirmed that the current visa-free access provisions will remain following representations to the British Government by New Zealand’s prime minster, Helen Clark.

Advice that the visa-free period will remain untouched came after personal discussions between Helen Clark and her British counterpart, Gordon Brown, and a formal submission to the Home Office about the importance of the visa-free arrangements which argued that the retention of the twelve-month special provision was important for New Zealand university staff as many viewed Britain as a destination of choice for study leave.

AUS academic vice-president, Dr Grant Duncan, said that visa-free access to the UK was imperative as many New Zealand academics are heavily engaged in research collaboration with British colleagues and see great benefit in being able to study and to research at some of the world’s best universities.

“Academic staff work in a highly mobile international market, and the free exchange of academics among countries is necessary in order to advance research and knowledge globally,” Dr Duncan said. “Any moves to make it more difficult for New Zealand academics to enter Britain would not only have been unnecessarily bureaucratic, but they would also have been be counter-productive because they would have impeded collaboration on internationally important research between New Zealand and British academics.”

Dr Duncan said that it appeared the motivation for the planned changes came from the fear of an increased number of illegal immigrants to Britain, but there was no evidence to suggest that New Zealand academics posed any sort of risk.


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