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UK promises to plug post-Brexit research gap

The UK government has announced that funding for agreed EU research projects will be guaranteed until the end of 2020.

Funding will be guaranteed by the UK government "even in a no-deal scenario". Photo: Skeeze/Pixabay

While the announcement acknowledges higher education will need a transition period to adjust, key challenges remain

This will apply also in the event of a ‘no deal Brexit,’Sam Gyimah, British minister for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation, said in a tweet while inviting scientists and researchers to “keep bidding for projects.”

 

UK universities, businesses and organisations that successfully bid for EU funds until the end of 2020 will be guaranteed to receive funding until the end of their projects.

“The UK should be a major player in the next EU program which starts in 2021”

The Treasury said in a statement that the UK’s full allocation for structural and investment fund projects, such as funding secured through the European Regional Development Fund, will be underwritten until the end of 2020.

Funding will be guaranteed by the Treasury if no deal is agreed.

“The guarantee we are making today means that, even in the unlikely event of a no-deal, our businesses, universities and local authorities can be confident that they will continue to receive the funding they successfully bid for from any EU program,” Philip Hammond the finance minister said in a statement.

The British Council welcomed the announcement, stating it showed ongoing commitment to international engagement on research and innovation.

Alastair Jarvis, Chief executive of Universities UK, also backed the move but said ensuring the UK remains part of European research projects after 2021 should be a top negotiating priority.

“The extension of the UK government’s underwrite until the end of the Horizon 2020 program is welcome news. This news should provide reassurance to researchers in the UK and across the EU that they can continue to apply for collaborative projects right until the end of 2020 when the Horizon 2020 program ends, even in a no deal scenario,” he said.

“The UK should be a major player in the next EU program which starts in 2021. We welcomed the UK prime minister’s recent confirmation that she would like to see the UK associate fully with the next program. We now need to see this confirmed as part of the formal Brexit agreement later this year,” Jarvis added.

“This short-term victory for the sector is nothing but a commitment to the current status quo”

Ludovic Highman, senior research associate at UCL,  told The PIE News that while the announcement acknowledges higher education will need a transition period to adjust, key challenges remain.

“The UK national research funding scheme is clearly not ready to replace EU research funding schemes overnight,”he said.

“While this declaration will give the UK government some respite in further clarifying the research funding scheme post-Brexit, key challenges remain. It is unclear how EU funding will be replaced.”

He added that the UK’s participation in the next EU research program, the €100bn Horizon Europe, remains the real issue.

“The future status of the UK’s participation to the EU’s next framework programme for research and innovation…remains the real issue. This short-term victory for the sector is nothing but a commitment to the current status quo, in the absence of any other detailed national plan,” he concluded.

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