In a statement of reassurance from the UK’s chancellor, Philip Hammond, universities and businesses were told they will “have certainty” over future funding and should continue to bid while the UK remains a member of the EU.
For initiatives where the UK organisation bids directly to the European Commission for EU funding, such as Horizon 2020 research funding, the treasury will “underwrite the payments of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU”.
“It’s business as usual for Horizon 2020 projects”
Hammond said that the UK will “continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings, including receiving European funding, up until the point we leave the EU.”
The announcement was backed up by Jo Johnson, minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, in a letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
“It’s business as usual for Horizon 2020 projects,” wrote Johnson.
“The UK will continue to be a world leader in international research and innovation, and we expect to ensure that close collaboration between the UK and the EU in science continues,” he wrote.
“I believe this decision will give British businesses, universities and their EU collaborative partners the necessary assurance and certainty needed to plan ahead.”
The announcement will do little to quell concerns about access to loan funding for EU students coming to UK universities, which has only been guaranteed up to the 2017 student intake.
Dave Phoenix, chair of MillionPlus, the association for modern universities in the UK, has acknowledged that while the EU research funding is “excellent news for universities”, it only partly ensures stability in the current Brexit transition.
“The chancellor now needs to confirm that access to loan funding for EU students who commence their courses before Brexit is also guaranteed for their full period of study,” he said.
“This is crucial for UK universities and given students are already seeking information for 2017 entry is increasingly urgent.”