The British Academy welcomes the government's announcement that it will underwrite funding for UK participants in the Horizon 2020 research programme while Britain is still a member of the EU.
Alun Evans, Chief Executive of the British Academy, said:
"This announcement is a positive indicator of the government's commitment to maintaining the UK's outstanding research and innovation base. As the UK's seven national academies urged in a recent statement, the government must do its utmost to safeguard the UK's assets in research, scholarship and innovation following the result of the EU Referendum.
The challenges the UK now faces are particularly important for the humanities and social science disciplines represented by the British Academy. We are therefore pleased to see the government's recognition of the importance of providing sustained support and reducing uncertainty wherever possible. As we manage disruption and change, the UK’s growth story is more important than ever, and research and innovation lie at the heart of the growth opportunities in the UK. Our research expenditure is more productive than anywhere else in the world, and we must remember the contribution of humanities and social sciences in an economy that is more than three-quarters services. Now more than ever we must rekindle growth, and investing in research is arguably the most powerful intervention to do so.
While this announcement is a welcome step in the right direction, the British Academy urges government to have discussions on how to address the funding gap in the longer term. Funding is not the only issue at stake. In the near future, the government must also consider the researchers themselves, the need for continued collaboration, and the implications for regulation."
The British Academy highlighted the significance of the government’s announcement for humanities and social science (HSS) disciplines, stating that UK-based HSS researchers have won a third of all advanced grants and starting grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) from 2007-15. The HSS funding won from the ERC per year equates to roughly 23% of the average annual ESRC and AHRC budget combined in recent years. This is a clear sign of UK-based humanities and social science excellence and also indicates that such excellence needs to be supported now that the UK is leaving the EU.
The British Academy's joint statement 'Research and innovation: after the EU Referendum' addresses the other issues that must be considered by government, in addition to funding. It stated that UK-based researchers and staff from other EU countries must be given assurances that they and their dependents will be able to continue to live and work here. Similarly, opportunities need to be safeguarded for UK researchers to gain experience in other EU countries.
It is also vital that our EU partners are reassured of the UK's commitment to current and future collaboration, as the UK's excellence in research draws extensively on collaboration with colleagues in other EU member states.
The full statement is available here.