Behind the Headlines

“‘There’s no plan B’: Academics race to safeguard research against Brexit”

Written on 10/18/2018

What’s the story?

Universities are warning that either a hard Brexit or a no-deal Brexit, could see the UK’s standing as a world leader in science and research slip. Read more on the Guardian website.

How reliable is it?

Reliable. Unless the government reaches a specific agreement to this effect with the EU, the UK will no longer have access to the EU’s research programmes after Brexit happens, and there are no firm commitments from the government that this funding gap will be filled after 2020.

What’s the background?

  • Academics across the UK have expressed concern for the future of science and research in the UK if the government proceeds with a “hard” Brexit or if there is a no-deal Brexit. Evidence
  • Inside the EU, academics in the UK have been able to apply for prestigious grants worth thousands or even millions of pounds, along with receiving access to research facilities and expertise networks across the EU. Evidence  
  • If no agreement is reached, the UK will be unable to apply to Horizon 2020’s successor funding programme, which is expected to provide €100 billion for research projects across the EU over seven years. Evidence
  • The government has only committed to honouring payments awarded under the current European research programme until 2020, raising concerns as to how (if at all) the EU’s contribution will be replaced. Evidence
  • Professor Chris Gosdon, director of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, fears that research in his subject area will be severely diminished in the UK, as 38% of its funding comes from the EU. Evidence
  • Indeed, evidence collated by the government suggests the UK is already being awarded fewer EU grants; it is estimated that between February 2017 and August 2018, UK researchers received €136 million less funding from the EU. Evidence
  • Universities UK found that EU research funding has generated around 19,000 jobs in the UK and provides a £1 billion boost to the UK’s GDP each year. Evidence
  • In terms of funding awarded on a competitive basis in the period 2007 – 2013 (Framework Programme 7), the UK was the second largest recipient after Germany, securing €6.9 billion out of a total of €55.4 billion. Evidence
  • Many UK universities are trying to set up new partnerships to counteract the negative effects of Brexit on research projects, but in a no-deal scenario even this arrangement would be thrown into question. Evidence
    Photo courtesy Bloomberg (Simon Dawson)
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