After Brexit, academics fear for their research grants

From the THES:

 

Growing numbers of UK researchers say that their applications for European Union research funding are in doubt after the Brexit vote, while there are also reports of foreign scientists opting not to take up jobs in the UK owing to the post-referendum outlook.

Cambridge University 1 (St John's College) comp_0

Read on here.

 

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    • It’s not just the money, it’s the international prestige and the opportunity to collaborate with other EU institutions. Those, in themselves, are valuable, but it’s what they lead to which might interest you: the ability to attract high-quality students and academics. Those are good for the UK as a whole, and they are particularly good – this is the bit for cynics like you – for the nation’s wealth, because HE is an export ‘industry’. Overseas students pay high fees to study here because our universities have good reputations for world-leading research. The reputation and everything that leads from it is in jeopardy because some people in the sticks believed the lies of right-wing tabloids and dodgy journalist-politicians.

    • Some statistics in relation to science research.

      The UK houses 0.9% of the world’s population, but holds 3.3% of the world’s scientific researchers, who in turn produce 6.9% of global scientific output. The EU’s global share of science researchers is 22.2%: China’s is 19.1%: the USA’s 16.7% (source: Unesco Science Report).

      The UK is one of the largest recipients of EU science research funding. “Horizon 2020” awarded the UK 15.4% of total funds (significantly more than the UK contributed into the scheme). The UK currently benefits by £1.2 billion from EU research funding, as well as gaining less easily quantifiable benefits from the international networking that accompanies. When/if the UK leaves the EU, participation in the scheme, unless the UK can negotiate a Swiss-style agreement, will be at an end. And it’s worth noting that when, in 2014, Switzerland (as a result of voting in a referendum to limit mass migration) was suspended from H2020, the national government had to put in place its own funding programme. They subsequently negotiated limited return-access to H2020, but at considerably greater cost pro rata than EU members paid.

      Science research is increasingly pan-national, with top scientists working together across boundaries: cross border collaborations pooling together the best brains are generally regarded as creating more impact than solely national programmes. Research scientists (as do any job seekers) go to where the work is available, which in no small part is determined by where funding is available. So in the UK, unless alternative sources of money are found to replace existing EU scientific research funding such as H2020, there would seem to be a likelihood that at least some scientific research will move away from Britain.

      So maybe this isn’t wholly Brexi-scaremongering. But there again, scientific research does not have to rank high on everyone’s list of priorities, even if most of us benefit from it.

  • Yes, it must indeed be difficult for academia to face the prospect of suddenly having to find other funding after sucking on the EU teat for so long. But the milk issuing from this teat was paid for by Britain’s exorbitant EU contributions that had to be shouldered by the taxpayer. Cut the contributions down to zero and there should be more than enough funds available for research.

    • “Cut the contributions down to zero and there should be more than enough funds available for research.”

      Anybody who thinks that a) there will be any money left over after the current vicious collapse of the UK economy, and b) a post-Brexit government will be happy to splash the cash, is utterly deluded.

      But EU funding isn’t just about the money. As I’ve explained above, it’s about the collaborations, the opportunities to attract talented researchers, the opportunities to attract students (and make money from them). It’s about national prestige and all the financial and scientific advantages which come from being considered at the top of the pile. Brexit leaves UK higher education isolated. It leaves us in a back-water. Which given HE is one of the few export successes the UK has (along with the arts) that’s really not very clever.

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