1,100 scientists and students barred amid China crackdown

More than 1,000 scientists and postgraduate students were barred from working in the United Kingdom last year on national security grounds, amid a major government crackdown on research collaborations with China, reports Hannah Devlin for The Guardian.

Figures obtained by The Guardian reveal that a record 1,104 scientists and postgraduate students were rejected by Foreign Office vetting in 2022, up from 128 in 2020 and just 13 in 2016. The sharp increase follows a hardening of the government’s stance on scientific ties with China, with warnings from MI5 of a growing espionage threat, major research centres being quietly shut down and accusations by a government minister that China’s leading genomics company had regularly sought to hack into the NHS’s genetic database.

The Foreign Office declined to give a breakdown by nationality, but data supplied by leading universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College suggests that, at these institutions at least, Chinese academics account for a majority of those denied clearance. Some have welcomed the policy shift, with one security expert saying the number of academics being barred is “commensurate with the threat”. But leading scientists say the scheme is leaving universities struggling to recruit the best talent from abroad.
Full report on The Guardian site