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Brexit and UK science

Venki Ramakrishnan and lab group

“It is crucial that as we leave the European Union we do not jeopardise the UK’s flourishing research ecosystem.  Ensuring that global science can continue to thrive through close cooperation and collaboration between the UK and the EU, as well as the rest of the world is in everyone’s best interests.”
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society.

In order to deliver the UK Government’s commitment to maintaining the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world for science and innovation. It must address three key areas:

  1. Mobility and collaboration. Mobility of talent is crucial to the conduct of cutting edge of research and innovation. We must send a strong message that the UK will always be a welcoming country for talent. The UK must continue to be able to access easily the EU-wide talent pool that provides 17% of our university staff and over two thirds of the founders of UK based start-ups.  We must also ensure that the UK continues to collaborate with European partners, and that individuals with skills essential to the research endeavour can travel with ease and maintain and build the international networks that are central to its progress.
  2. Funding: Investment is crucial to maintaining a successful research and innovation system.  Just as leaving the EU must not harm collaborations between UK and EU partners, it must not lead to any reduction in funding for UK research.
  3. Regulation: It is critical that we identify areas of regulation where continued alignment with EU rules is most important for the UK, and where we choose to do so, that UK experts continue to be able to influence EU policy development. We should take the opportunity to pioneer new regulatory approaches on emerging technologies, and to take a leading position on international markets.

The Royal Society has identified the following immediate goals for the negotiations:

  • Unambiguous guarantees on the rights of EEA citizens currently resident in the UK
  • Removal of students from the immigration target numbers
  • Commitment to full participation in Horizon 2020 until the conclusion of that EU research programme as a transition to the closest possible association with the successor Framework Programme 9.

These three initial steps would send a strong signal of the UK’s intention to be a global, outward-looking nation.

If you would like to get in touch with the Society about our work in this area, please email: science.policy@royalsociety.org

Our research and evidence

  • Case studies showing how researchers move internationally

    Read ten researchers' stories about the role that international mobility has played in their careers.

    Explore the evidence

  • Evidence on international mobility and collaboration

    The Society has published new evidence on international mobility and collaboration, to deepen our understanding of how, where and why researchers move to and from the UK.

    Explore the evidence

  • Seeking views on the the future of UK and EU scientific collaboration

    The Society is working with the Wellcome Trust to convene UK and EU science leaders to develop a shared vision for an ambitious, close and achievable future agreement on research and innovation. 

    Find out more

  • Alternative future scenarios for UK research and innovation

    Scenarios for research and innovation in 2027, produced by the School of International Futures, as a tool to inform your policy work.

    Explore the scenarios

  • Evidence on the role of EU funding in UK research and innovation

    Detailed evidence on how EU funding breaks down across academic disciplines, institutions, industrial sectors, company sizes and regions of the UK.

    Read the report

  • The role of the EU in funding UK research

    Before the referendum, the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

  • The role of the EU in international research collaboration and researcher mobility

    Before the referendum, the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

  • The role of EU regulation and policy in governing UK research

    Before the referendum the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

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