RCUK statement on international collaboration post EU referendum

6 July 2016

The UK's excellence in science and research is well established and UK researchers are sought after collaborators internationally. The success of UK research is dependent on our best researchers collaborating with partners and sharing facilities across international boundaries. We are committed to enabling and facilitating these collaborations between UK researchers and international partners in Europe and across the world. Following the UK's referendum vote to leave the European Union we are working with our research communities and with Government to ensure that the UK is well placed to maintain its place as a leading research nation. While the UK remains a full member of the European Union we encourage researchers to continue to engage with partners in the EU and with European funding schemes as normal. The Research Councils recognise that there is uncertainty about the future of the UK's relationship with the EU in general and specifically affecting aspects of the research system. We are working with Government to ensure that the concerns and needs of UK researchers are represented and are considered in the negotiation of a future relationship with the EU.

  1. The outcome of the EU Referendum raises questions for UK researchers and international partners about the Research Councils' international activities and collaborations. We are actively working with Government on issues related to UK research and we will provide further information when it is available. We remain committed to enabling the best researchers to collaborate internationally. We place great value on our partnerships with European and international colleagues, as well as the contribution made by non-UK nationals working for the Research Councils, at our centres and institutes or engaged in the activities that we fund. We are committed to supporting researchers and students from EU nations currently working in the UK and contributing to the world-class standing of our research base.

  2. Our ambition is that the UK remains one of the best places in the world to do research, to innovate and grow business. We recognise that this ambition can only be realised if UK researchers are able to engage with brightest minds, the best organisations and facilities wherever they are placed in the world. The UK Government continues to recognise the importance of international research collaboration and we are committed to working with them to ensure the UK maintains its position as a global research nation, open to the world. We will continue to support excellent research that crosses borders and disciplines, and work with international partners to enable and facilitate the best researchers to work together.

  3. Maintaining access to a full range of world-class research facilities, both in the UK and internationally, is vital for the UK to remain a leading centre of research excellence. RCUK will continue to work to ensure that our researchers have access to leading research infrastructure and facilities wherever they may be located in the world. The UK's participation in major European partnerships that are not part of EU institutions will not be affected. These include CERN, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), European Space Agency (ESA), Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), European Spallation Source (ESS) and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The UK also remains committed to other major international projects, including the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), T2K and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). We will also continue to promote the UK's world leading research infrastructure and facilities as a key factor in the vibrant research environment that serves as a magnet for the most talented researchers and multinational R&D companies.

  4. RCUK will continue to make an authoritative contribution to international research strategy and policy development, through our membership and participation in various international fora such as the Global Research Council, Science Europe and the OECD Global Science Forum.

  5. The Research Councils will continue to highlight the value of researcher mobility in exposing researchers to innovative ideas and new knowledge; as well as helping to address skills gaps in the UK science base. We are aware that there are questions following the referendum about the status of EU nationals employed in the UK on projects in receipt of Research Councils funds. In his statement the Prime Minister confirmed that there would be no immediate changes following the Referendum, including the circumstances of British Citizens living in the EU, and European citizens living here. This includes those studying or working in UK Universities. The Universities and Science Minister reiterated in a speech on 30 June 2016 that the UK government hugely values the contribution of EU and international staff and confirmed that there will be no immediate changes to their rights to live and work in the UK.

  6. The UK is a leading and integral part of the European research and innovation landscape. While the ways that UK researchers will be funded to participate in future EU funded projects will be a matter for future discussions, the UK government aims to ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research. Research Councils currently actively engage in EU funding programmes at all levels and related policy dialogue, and have strong relationships and partnerships with other research funding and performing organisations across Europe.

  7. The Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has confirmed that while the UK remains a full member of the EU there is no immediate change for those applying to, or participating in, Horizon 2020. This means that UK participants can continue to apply to the programme in the usual way. The Research Councils will honour existing commitments and obligations through EU funded programmes; and we remain committed to our existing strong partnerships with European colleagues. These relationships will be crucial to maintain a leading role in European and international research.

  8. The UK Research Office (UKRO), the European Office of the Research Councils, will continue to deliver all of its usual services and will aim to provide updates on the most pressing queries as soon as details emerge. UKRO will continue to play a facilitation role between the research community and all relevant stakeholders over the coming period. This work includes working closely with the Research Councils and collating questions from its other subscribers.

  9. We will also continue to ensure that members of the UK research community remain partners of choice in the research effort needed to address major challenges; strengthening existing partnerships and building new partnerships with emerging science nations. RCUK offices in China, India and the USA will continue to identify new opportunities for international collaboration, in line with the Prime Minister's statement that the UK will want the strongest possible links with partners in North America, India and China. We also remain committed to supporting cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries through engaging in bilateral and multilateral initiatives, as well as through our delivery of the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund.

  10. EU students are presently eligible for fees-only funding under Research Council support for postgraduate training. EU students eligible for RCUK support under current rules will continue to be eligible for RCUK fees-only support if currently undertaking or about to start in the 2016/17 academic year, and will continue to receive fees-only funding for the duration of their courses. Future funding arrangements for EU students will be determined as part of the UK's discussions on its future relationship.

  11. RCUK continues to liaise with colleagues in government on issues related to the UK research community, and will provide further information when it is available.


Further information

Matt Goode
01793 444400


Notes

1. PM Commons Statement on the result of the EU referendum: 27 June 2016 - external link

2. Statement from Jo Johnson MP, Minister for Universities and Science, on higher education and research following the EU referendum - external link

3. Leading the world in the new age of global science, speech by Jo Johnson MP, Minister for Universities and Science, at the Wellcome Trust - external link