Brexit cuts to research funding

From Stephen Hawking, to Michael Faraday, to Alexander Fleming, the UK boasts some of the most well-known names in academia. However, with the decision to leave the European Union, Britain’s scientific community could cripple.

To pioneer scientific and technological advances, capital investments are required. According to Professor Scott Lucas, of the University of Birmingham, “the British Government has been far from steady in its support for scientific development.” In recent times, this financial backing is below inflation, despite widespread media coverage stating its increase.

With Britain’s departure from the EU, there is no guarantee that the UK will enjoy the funding that they have received any longer, thereby cutting back on its scientific outputs. They will need to rely on either the Government or private sectors to fill the gap that was previously given through the financial support between nations in grants and awards.  For instance, since 2007, Britain won almost £1.11 billion from the European Research Council, which provided its capital for projects such as 3D imaging and nanoscience exploration. According to university officials, this amount is “the equivalent of another Research Council.”

However, the leaders of the Leave campaign have given a wishful declaration that universities and scientists who have been given EU funding will continue to have them.

The decrease in grants may follow a dramatic decrease in EU scientific personnel working in the UK, while UK scientists may be denied mobility across the EU. With these foreseeable changes in the UK’s scientific community, it is not surprising why 83 percent of scientists voted Remain.

The terms of the agreement between the EU and the UK in departmental research will also highly affect the long-term capability of the UK to attract and retain academics and students from the EU.

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Monique Santoso

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January 2022
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