The UK’s science efforts received a huge chunk of funding from the EU, and was involved with a large number of joint projects but now it looks like the boffins are being told to walk away.
Fortunately, the UK government has piles of money which is why it is talking about flogging off the NHS and cutting back on education programmes.
Theoretically the UK should be fine at the moment, after all the country has not actually decided to follow the Brexit referendum and leave the EU, but apparently the EU has unleashed a wave of discrimination against UK researchers, with elite universities in the country coming under pressure to abandon collaborations with European partners.
In a confidential survey of the UK’s Russell Group universities, British academics are being asked to leave EU-funded projects or to step down from leadership roles because they are considered a financial liability.
For example an EU project officer recommended that a lead investigator drop all UK partners from a consortium because Britain’s share of funding could not be guaranteed. The note implied that if UK organisations remained on the project, which is due to start in January 2017, the contract signing would be delayed until Britain had agreed a fresh deal with Europe.
British researchers receive about £1bn a year from EU finding programmes such as Horizon 2020, but access to the money must be completely renegotiated under Brexit and is unlikely to happen.
The 24 universities in the Russell Group are regarded as Britain’s elite institutions. With Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London and Imperial College among their number, they are renowned for world-class research and academic excellence.
New EU projects are reluctant to be in collaboration with UK partners, and that potentially all new funding opportunities from Horizon 2020 are closing”.
At least two social science collaborations with Dutch universities have been told UK partners are unwelcome, one Russell Group university said in the survey.
Speaking at Oxford’s Wolfson College last Friday, the university’s chancellor, Chris Patten, said Oxford received perhaps more research income than any European university, with about 40% coming from government. “Our research income will of course fall significantly after we have left the EU unless a Brexit government guarantees to cover the shortfall,” Lord Patten said.
Still a least we will not have the EU telling us what to do. We will have an elected, democratic leader like Teresa May. Oh..