Freedom of scientific exchange, ideas and people must be preserved post-Brexit

The Guild welcomes greater clarity on the UK’s position on Brexit, and we welcome UK’s commitment to Research and Innovation as part of its Brexit discussions. Noting that the UK does not wish to be part of the Single Market, we urge both the EU and the UK to conduct negotiations imaginatively and constructively, respecting five core propositions:

  1. UK’s full participation in the EU’s research and innovation programmes is crucial. If the UK had access to these programmes only as a non-associated third country, this would be likely to significantly reduce UK participation in European programmes.

During Switzerland’s participation in Horizon 2020 as a non-associated Third Country for Pillars II and III between 2014 and 2016, Swiss participation in Horizon 2020 (paid for by the Swiss government) halved compared to pre-2014 levels. 

  1. It is critical to retain funding and support for student and staff mobility under Erasmus Plus;

Every year, more than 15 000 students supported by the Erasmus+ programme move to study in other EU member states and the UK continues to be one of the most popular destinations for student exchange from other European countries. Mobility, intercultural skills and foreign language competencies are core skills for tomorrow’s workforce, and it is in the interest of all countries to find ways to sustain – and increase – support for student mobility.

  1. Effective UK participation in European Framework Programmes is contingent on the freedom of ideas – and of movement for researchers.

Currently, the UK benefits from a net migration of talented researchers into the UK, from all parts of Europe. Introducing tighter immigration controls will harm the core aim of the European Research Area, the freedom of researchers.

  1. It is critical to recognise the multiplicity of interests in UK higher education as part of the negotiations.

Universities in the four nations of the UK come under different national jurisdictions, and it is critical to recognise the interests of Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish universities alongside those of England.

  1. We welcome the British Prime Minister’s commitment to a ‘truly global Britain’. However, this commitment will be hollow without firm ties to Britain’s European neighbours.

Global collaboration in education, research and innovation requires the same ingredients as European collaboration: security and flexibility of funding across borders, freedom of movement, common rules relating to Intellectual Property, and so on. Even with the UK’s commitment to leave the EU, Britain’s global ambitions for research and innovation must begin closest to home, on the European continent.

Published Jan. 19, 2017 10:41 AM - Last modified Jan. 19, 2017 10:41 AM