The EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme has revealed a 24.22 per cent drop in the proportion of funding awarded to UK higher education institutions – a gargantuan fall from the high 25.47 per cent seen in February 2017.
As a result, Universities UK, an organisation representing British universities, said research funding had lost €136 million (£121 million).
Analysis from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showed the strength of researchers in British universities, in comparison European counterparts, received a disproportionally advantageous share of €80 billion under the seven-year 2020 programme.
Professor Boyle remained “rather positive” about current deliberations on Britain’s future involvement: “The main benefit is not necessarily money. It’s all about the collaboration.”
Telling The Financial Times, Paul Boyle, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester, commented: “This is not a crisis… but there is a lot of uncertainty. We are seeing some evidence that UK participation is starting to drop away and awards are declining.”
“Colleagues are concerned about future participation.”
Nevertheless, Professor Boyle remained “rather positive” about current deliberations on Britain’s future involvement: “The main benefit is not necessarily money. It’s all about the collaboration.”
Martin McKee, professor of European health policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “I’ve heard British researchers being asked to step aside from European research consortiums and excluded from funding applications.”
“We have no idea how the UK will be able to participate in the next EU programme and government reassurances are completely worthless as they are based on nothing more than hope.”
Theresa May has stated the government is willing to produce “an appropriate contribution” to the next round of funding, which lasts from 2021-27, estimated to be a minimum of €1.3 billion
In spite of these claims, the government has promised to underwrite all grants to current recipients of Horizon 2020.
Moreover, Theresa May has stated the government is willing to produce “an appropriate contribution” to the next round of funding, which lasts from 2021-27, estimated to be a minimum of €1.3 billion – the average amount given to UK institutions per annum – in exchange for a “suitable level of influence.”
Writing in The Times Higher Education on EU funding for UK universities, Hywel Williams, MP for Arfon and Plaid Cymru spokesman for Brexit, warned that a “No Deal Brexit” not only undermines UK higher education in Wales, but also its economy.
He argued: “I have advocated for the benefits of European Union membership for higher education ever since Brexit mutated from a private obsession on the more exotic shores of the Conservative and Labour parties into a serious probability.”
Government horizons are often short and anyway, the Brexit horizon is rushing towards us. Medium and longer term planning beyond 2020 will become increasingly difficult.
“My own university, Bangor, has derived so much benefit from our membership, in respect of high-quality staff and student recruitment.”
“Wales, and thus Welsh universities, benefits from EU structural funds”
“So with help of EU money, Bangor University created the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology, Swansea University hugely expanded its Bay campus and Cardiff University built the Brain Research Imaging Centre.”
Reprimanding the “noises” made by the Westminster government, Mr Williams stated a No Deal Brexit would mean “key structural funding streams will collapse”.
“Government horizons are often short and anyway, the Brexit horizon is rushing towards us. Medium and longer term planning beyond 2020 will become increasingly difficult. Participation in EU-funded research and innovation schemes will grind to a halt, leaving creative and ground-breaking projects in limbo.”
Highlighting the impact of higher education – partially facilitated by EU grants – which generated £2.8 million to the Welsh economy, Mr Williams further rebuked the government’s agenda by concluding it would further hinder the pre-existing “fragility” of the Welsh economy, making “a no-deal outcome so bone-chillingly frightening.”