Magazine article Times Higher Education

Growing Numbers of UK Academics Face EU Funding Worries

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Growing Numbers of UK Academics Face EU Funding Worries

Article excerpt

Post-Brexit, some foreign scientists spurn UK job offers. David Matthews and John Morgan report

Growing numbers of UK researchers say that their applications for European Union research funding are in doubt after the Brexit vote, while there are also reports of foreign scientists opting not to take up jobs in the UK owing to the post-referendum outlook.

Several researchers spoken to by Times Higher Education said that the vote had thrown into doubt funding applications to Horizon 2020, the EU's current research programme, as continental partners expressed worries about whether UK participation could harm their projects' chances of success.

UK universities currently benefit from EU research funding by about £1.2 billion a year, as well as gaining access to international networks of researchers.

Meanwhile, a survey on the impact of the Brexit vote circulated on social media by the lobbying group Scientists for EU has spotlighted worries for science.

According to the group, among the 167 scientists to respond, 51 said they had general concerns about the future of science in the UK, 33 said they were planning to leave the country, 20 cited worries about xenophobia, 16 said they had encountered disruption in Horizon 2020 applications and nine were foreign scientists who had decided not to take up UK job offers. Three respondents said they had encountered no problems raised by the referendum result.

For standard projects funded by Horizon 2020, three participants from different member states or associated countries must be involved (this rule does not apply to European Research Council funding, which is part of the programme).

Some EU researchers may be deterred from bidding for multi-year funding alongside UK partners, given the uncertainty over how long the nation will remain inside the EU.

Ali Mobasheri, a professor of musculoskeletal physiology at the University of Surrey, said that colleagues in Belgium and the Netherlands were developing a separate bid for EU money for a project on personalised medicine because they felt that including UK partners was "too risky" after the Brexit vote.

"There's fear of prejudice" against applications with UK partners, he said. "These are people we really know well and respect and trust, and it's Brexit that has driven the wedge between us," he added.

Although Professor Mobasheri said that he might still be able to draw up another application, and was "waiting to see" who might join, his former partners in the Netherlands had a unique cohort of patients that put them in a strong position. …

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