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The Nobel prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan has said he might not have come to the UK if the current “unfriendly” visa regime for migrant scientists had been in place.

“I had to take a huge pay cut to come to Britain – about 40 per cent, but it was closer to a 50 per cent cut once you factored in higher costs of living,” explained Professor Ramakrishnan on his move from the US to Cambridge’s famous Laboratory of Molecular Biology 25 years ago. “If I’d have felt that this was a relatively unfriendly country that didn’t appreciate me, I might have said ‘Why should I give up my high-paying job to come to Britain?’” he told Times Higher Education.

Nowadays, visa fees are “out of step with competitor countries – they are really too high”, said the India-born scientist, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry a decade after moving to the UK, while the NHS surcharge recently rose by 66 per cent, to £1,035 a year.

“If you want to be a global leader in science, you can’t put up these unnecessary barriers,” continued Professor Ramakrishnan, who noted that “these barriers weren’t there when I arrived in Britain”.

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