The Exceptional Talent route attracted a lot of attention and comment when it was announced way back in November 2010. Questions were starting to be asked about what had happened to it and whether arts and science organisations were really willing to be the determinants of who is a suitably good artist or scientist to be awarded a Willy Wonka style Golden Ticket to the UK. It isn’t hard to imagine the potential for politics and in-fighting.
Confounding the doubters, the UK Border Agency yesterday revealed that the route will open on 9 August 2011 and negotiations with the Royal Society, Arts Council England, Royal Academy of Engineering and British Academy are complete. The allocation of 1000 visas has been divided between them.
The ‘competent bodies’, as they are now known, might be thought to have something of a London, England bias, being as that is where they are all based. No allocations have been made to the Arts Councils of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. As a resident of London, England, I’m sure I’m delighted to be prospectively surrounded by the exceptionally talented, as judged by the competent bodies, but I might be feeling a little aggrieved if I were, say, Alex Salmond.
The policy guidance document can be found here.