UK universities are being asked to remind staff that the UK government is pushing for a Brexit deal over fears of a ‘Brexodus’.
The UK government has promised research that secured European funding would be upheld until the end of the decade, but with no official deals in place, the University and College Union (UCU) warn this may not be enough.
“Without a deal, funding streams will be at risk and any longer-term planning will take place without our involvement, Sally Hunt, the leader of UCU, told The Independent.
“This risks leaving research projects and collaborations on hold or collapsing altogether.”
It was revealed that 2,300 EU academics had resigned from British universities this year, causing concerns that a no-deal Brexit could provoke top higher education to up and leave.
Universities minister, Sam Gyiah is now urging university Vice Chancellor’s to remind staff that the UK government is pushing for a Brexit deal.
“Each and every one of you can help the UK’s course,” Gyiah said during a conference in Brussels, according to The Independent.
“You can explain to them that the UK has made it very clear that we see UK research and collaboration as essential to our universities’ future. That we are looking at mobility and want to be part of ERASMUS+.”
With the HE sector contributing more to our national output than our car & defence industries & bringing in more than natural gas and Scotch whisky in exports, universities are a vital part of our country's future post-Brexit – a line from my speech today at the UUK conference.
— Sam Gyimah (@SamGyimah) September 5, 2018
University research is a significant contributor to the UK economy according to the report by Universities UK.
With a return on investment (RoI) of 20 to 50 percent, every £1 spent by government on Research and Development leads to an output rise of at least £0.20 in the private sector each year.
Looking beyond economic impact, research also creates businesses and jobs and enriches culture and society in the UK, according to the report.
If Brexit goes ahead without a robust academic framework in place with the EU, not only would the funding provided by the trade group (EUR€8.8 billion between 2007 and 2013) likely be lost, but the UK may not even have researchers left to fulfil the projects.
“A deal or no-deal Brexit is the biggest challenge facing higher education and the country,” said Hunt.
Despite this, Gyiah is urging universities not to look at what will be lost through Brexit, but consider how they can improve in the new circumstances.
“I think where they can do a lot more and a lot better is thinking how do you build on that and do a lot more. Our challenge is not just how do we replicate what we had in the EU, our challenge is how we go beyond that and succeed. I think on that debate universities have not risen up to the challenge.”