Universities warn no deal has serious repercussions for research

Universities UK
(edella / Shutterstock.com)

University leaders have written an open letter to MPs today warning them that a No-Deal Brexit will seriously impact the UK’s standing as an international academic research centre. Anna Tobin reports

A letter signed by Universities UK, the Russell Group, Guild HE, MilllionPlus and University Alliance, representing more than 150 education providers across the country, warns that a no-deal scenario could lead to “an academic, cultural and scientific setback from which it would take decades to recover.”

Here is the full text of the letter:

“University leaders are united in the view that the UK leaving the EU without a deal is one of the biggest threats our universities have ever faced. Our 50,000 EU staff and 130,000 EU students, not to mention the 15,000 UK students studying in Europe, are starting the new year facing significant uncertainty about their futures.

Vital research links will be compromised, from new cancer treatments to technologies combatting climate change. The valuable exchange of students, staff and knowledge would be seriously damaged. And we share the concerns of business about the impact of no deal on everything from supply chains to security and travel. It is no exaggeration to suggest that this would be an academic, cultural and scientific setback from which it would take decades to recover.

As a sector which contributes over £21 billion to UK GDP every year and supports 944,000 jobs, it is critical to the national interest, to the economy, communities and wider society, that the UK’s universities thrive post-Brexit. To do so, our government must demonstrate the required ambition, put the right measures and guarantees in place, and, crucially, avoid the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019.

As a matter of urgency, we are also seeking confirmation that the government will replace research funding sources from which we may be excluded at the end of March. In particular, we await explicit assurance that if the UK is unable to participate in the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funding schemes, which support world-leading breakthroughs, that domestic alternatives will be created with the same level of funding.”