New data has shown that university links to industrial research could be severely damaged if Brexit harms existing partnerships with European companies.

Times Higher Education (THE) revealed UEA to be the fifth university in the world for amount of industry collaborations.

10.23 percent of the university’s publications are such collaborations. This makes UEA the UK’s most industry-linked institution, with Imperial College London the next  most industry-dependent UK university at 23rd globally.

According to research from the UCL Institute of Education’s Centre for Global Higher Education, Brexit may have a significantly negative impact on UK universities’ industrial relationships. This research concluded that universities with a high dependency on partnering with foreign firms for research output, are “especially vulnerable” to “sudden changes in UK international relationships.”

Professor Robert Tijssen, an academic in science and innovation studies at Leiden University, Holland, said that leaving the European Union will likely be “detrimental for the research performance and the research portfolio” of certain higher education institutions.

Professor Tijssen said “Second-tier universities [are] probably the ones that will suffer most – they’re simply not globally leading and therefore less attractive to global and European industry.”

The Dutch academic added: “Brexit could force institutions to negotiate all these links with industry on an individual basis which would be difficult, time consuming and inefficient”.

The London-based institutions King’s College London, Imperial College London and University College London (UCL) published over a thousand papers in partnership with foreign businesses between 2009 and 2015.

UEA is forging closer European links  through the Aurora network, a group of nine leading European universities formed to advance research into globally relevant issues.