Academia and Industry, Continually Blurring Research Roles

Academia and Industry, Continually Blurring Research Roles in Chem

Catalyst article in Chem by Tony D. James, Eric V. Ansly and Jonathan L. Sessler


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New Chemical Science Paper – very happy we got the cover


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Royal Society International Joint Project with Yun-Bao Jiang (Xiamen University)

Tony James and Yun-Bao Jiang Royal Society International Exchanges 2012 NSFC (China) cost share application has just been awarded. The grant will fund exchanges between the James (Bath) and Jiang (Xiamen) Groups for two years.YBTJ

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Tony James Promoted to Professor

From August 1st 2011, Tony James will be promoted to the Position of Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Bath

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Opinion on Immigration cap – Tony James and John Fossey – RSC News – May 1st 2011

Opinion on Immigration cap – Tony James and John Fossey

What impact will the immigration cap have?

The immigration cap came into force on 6 April. Under the annual limit, employers will be able to bring a total of 20,700 people from outside the EU to work in skilled professions; an additional 1,000 visas will be made available to people of ‘exceptional talent’ to contribute to the sciences and the arts, with a 700/300 split in favour of science.

Many in the scientific community are now celebrating a victory: that, under the new points system, there is a priority for science and a balance has been struck between salary and academic qualifications. However, others are still concerned that the new hoops that non-EU researchers must jump through, and relatively low salaries for academic researchers, will deter or block many good overseas applications.

In addition, new rules are being put in place for non-EU students with restrictions including tougher English language requirements; stricter rules on working part-time; more restrictions on bringing dependents; and changes to entering employment after graduating. The RSC has opened up this debate on MyRSC, and is encouraging members to share their views in this complex debate.

Below, Tony James, University of Bath, and John Fossey, University of Birmingham, have joined the debate to share their own experiences and views on what the immigration cap will mean for chemistry.

    Tony James, University of Bath

I understand the Government’s general position on immigration and agree that we do need to check who enters the UK. However, my fear is that imposing an immigration cap will both dissuade and in some cases stop PhD-level scientists entering the UK, and this will harm science in this country. Students, applying for science PhDs already face a tighter scrutiny than the Government could hope to impose through their cap and administrative hurdles.

As an active researcher, when I decide to take on an overseas student they must be excellent. If they are not then my research suffers directly, influencing my scientific stature in the university and the wider scientific community. I am personally very rigorous in assessing the overseas candidate and in most cases I will either have met the student or spoken to them before even starting the process. The student will normally also come from a group with whom I currently collaborate with in an overseas country.

Also, in a time of scientific hardship, I need to be sure that the candidate is excellent and better than any UK alternative, particularly given that I will often need to fund the student’s project for example with chemical reagents, consumables and instrument usage.

Additionally, it is absolutely vital that short-term research exchanges (i.e. non-student visas) and postdoctoral researchers do not get blocked from entry to the UK. Where science is concerned the government is trying to fix a problem that does not exist and in their one-size-fitsall approach rather than fixing the immigration issue they will damage UK science.

    John Fossey, University of Birmingham

This year already two externally funded short-term visitors desiring to visit my lab have had their visas rejected. It is the short-term exchange that is vital for the competitiveness of the UK and it is the impact of our work that is worst hit. Such research exchanges, which are often sparked by initial discussions at international conferences, can lead to exciting proof of concept papers being published.

When exchange efforts become limited to one-way initiatives, with only the UK researchers going overseas, then UK institutions do not see the benefit of a return visit and they miss the valuable knowledge transfer associated with such activities.

Tony James explains that Yan-Jun of the University of Xiamen is one of the students who the new rules may affect. Yan-Jun published two papers during his short stay in Bath and also won an RSC poster prize in Southampton; pictured here with Tony and John.
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Catalysis and Sensing for Health (CASH 11) Banquet @ Roman Baths (1st Feb 2011)

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Catalysis and Sensing for Health (CASH 11) @ University of Bath (31st Jan to 2nd Feb 2011)

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WOK finally updated

Great News Web of Knowledge (WOK) finally updated

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