The Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science welcome the Prime Minister’s inclusion of ‘a leading role [for] science and innovation’ in the objectives set for the Brexit negotiations, and her recognition that ‘one of the great strengths of our nation is the breadth and depth of our academic and scientific communities.’ In a series of statements on Brexit, we have long highlighted the importance of international research funding, collaboration, staff and students for UK science and universities, and for UK growth and prosperity. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced increased expenditure on research and development by £4.75bn over the next four years.
Today, the Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would also ‘welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives.’ Given the statement that the UK would be open to contributing to ‘some specific European programmes in which [the UK] might want to participate,’ we hope that the Government will seek associated status in the upcoming ninth EU Framework Programme, which would ensure vital collaborative partnerships with our European colleagues.
If UK Universities are to remain global leaders, they must remain open to the best and brightest staff and students, from the EU and other countries. This applies to the social sciences as much as to STEM subjects. Visa regimes for university staff and students should be developed to enable this in the post-Brexit world.