Government guarantees Cambridge £137 million after Brexit

Khushali Dodhia 18 December 2016

The Government will provide £137 million to Cambridge University after pledging to underwrite research projects currently funded by the EU.

Figures released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reveal the amount of funding received by universities, research groups, and businesses through Horizon 2020, the financial instrument implementing the EU’s initiative to secure Europe’s global competitiveness.

A Treasury statement confirmed in August that it will underwrite research projects currently funded by the EU, including Horizon 2020, even if the project continues beyond the UK’s departure from Europe.

The UK currently receives £1 billion EU funding to invest in research – 16% of the total EU funding available, second only to Germany which receives 17%. In comparison, the funding available to non-EU states is 7.2%.

The new figures show that Cambridge has been awarded more funding than any other higher education organisation in the UK under Horizon 2020, followed by University College London (£122 million) and Oxford University (£114 million).

The scheme funded 114 University projects in 2014.

The current figures are correct as of 30 September 2016, but the total is likely to increase as UK institutions continue to bid for Horizon 2020 funding for the next four years.

Groups applying for the funding must be members of a consortium, typically made up of at least three organisations from different countries.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has called for the government to exempt EU scientists already employed in the UK from wider immigration controls.

Committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe said last month that: “Uncertainty over Brexit threatens to undermine some of the UK’s ongoing international scientific collaborations.

“Telling EU scientists and researchers already working in the UL that they are allowed to stay is one way the government could reduce that uncertainty right away.”

This was echoed by Senior Tutor of Trinity College, Catherine Barnard, writing for City A.M.

With a so-called “hard” Brexit looking likely, she suggested that a “bespoke deal” for universities which “might include free movement of academic researchers and greater flexibility for migration of students coming from the EU”.

She continued: “Voluntary contributions to […] future research programmes like Horizon 2020 might give academics working in the UK the chance to participate in these arrangements.”