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Brexit & Science

The timeline for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) (referred to as Brexit) proposes that the official departure will be started on Friday 29th March 2019, approximately 3 years after the referendum the resulted in 51.9% of voters voting in favour of Brexit. The ‘transition period’ will continue until 30 December 2020, at which point Britain will officially be out of the EU.

Science and research is one of many industries already feeling the strain of leaving the EU - especially as a large amount of science and research funding is based on ties to the EU. For instance, Horizon 2020 is an EU programme responsible for billions of pounds received by UK universities and research groups to facilitate cutting-edge science - such funding is likely to be pulled once Britain leaves the EU. It is essential that such incomes are matched in order to maintain the quality of scientific research in the UK.

Many scientific fields are particularly worried about however severely their fields will suffer from reduced funds (in particular, as 38% of archaeology research in the UK is funded from the EU). Politicians have reassured some scientists with promises that the UK will cover all funding lost a result from leaving the EU in terms of research.

However, doubt remains in the scientific community as concern is not linked to funding alone but extends to the strain that Brexit is placing on international scientific relationships. Physicists have already lost their place on an Innovative Training Network based on concern from foreign scientists. UK researchers are being seen as liabilities in collaborations with scientists in other countries - this is likely to hinder future research opportunities.

Universities are particularly affected by the prospect of decreased funding. Across universities, we are seeing redundancies and departmental closures: cost-cutting measures that promise a decrease in the quality of teaching and a lack of specialism in upcoming scientists and researchers.

It would be an understatement to say that the science community is anxious under the looming shadow of Brexit. Whether or not the calibre of scientific research in the UK will survive the uncertainty of Brexit is unknown.

Let us know in the comments below (or on Twitter or Instagram) if you’ve noticed a shift in your field in the lead-up to Brexit.

More on Brexit & Science:

How has the Brexit vote affected the economy? (The Guardian) by Richard Partington

E-mails show how UK physicists were dumped over Brexit (Nature News) by Richard Van Noorden

More on politics:

Check out The Consensus Podcast if you’re looking to find out more about politics from a relatable point of view

By Tomi Akingbade, Founder

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