News & Analysis Physics World  January 2018

Researchers urge government to replace lost EU cash after Brexit

Brexit blues A survey has found that the vast majority of UK researchers expect quitting the EU to have a negative impact on UK academia and research. (Shutterstock / vchal)

Around 90% of UK-based researchers say that the government must replace European research funding that is no longer accessible to UK institutions after the UK leaves the European Union (EU). That is one finding of an Elsevier/Ipsos MORI poll, which also found that 90% of UK researchers would like the government to maintain free movement for EU researchers. Meanwhile, 89% of UK researchers surveyed want to simplify visa and British citizenship applications for EU researchers who wish to work in the UK.

Carried out in September and October last year, the poll surveyed more than 2000 researchers – 1242 from the UK, 452 from the EU and 476 from non-EU countries. It found that access to European non-EU programmes, such as CERN, is also a priority for UK researchers, with 91% supporting such a move. More than four-fifths would also like UK bodies to remain members of EU science and innovation agencies. And while three-quarters of UK researchers believe the EU should continue to allow UK academic institutes access to EU Horizon 2020/FP9 research grants on the same basis as other EU countries, only 41% of EU researchers back UK access to this funding.

There is also global support for maintaining cross-border mobility, with 80% of EU and 70% of non-EU researchers supporting free movement for EU researchers. In the UK, 86% of researchers would also like UK universities and research institutes to offer free legal assistance to EU staff members for British visa and citizenship applications.

Although the survey was performed before the details emerged last month of a possible Brexit deal, 94% of UK researchers expect Brexit to have a negative impact on UK academia and research, and 71% expect it to adversely affect their own career. UK researchers claim that they are already seeing these impacts, with 46% saying their institutions are receiving fewer applications from EU researchers for jobs, 43% claiming a drop in requests for collaborations from within the EU and 40% saying their institutions are applying for fewer EU grants.

Michael Allen