Researchers 'overwhelmingly' say Brexit effect will be negative

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Brexit will have a negative impact on the research sector – while access to funding, free movement for researchers, and international collaboration are researchers’ biggest priorities as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

These are the conclusions of an Elsevier/Ipsos MORI survey in which some 90 per cent of UK-based researchers say that any European research funding no longer accessible to UK academic institutions after Brexit should be replaced by equivalent UK government funding. A majority of researchers globally say the UK government should maintain the current free movement for EU researchers who wish to work in the UK.

Brexit: Global Researchers’ Views on Opportunities and Challenges, measures the opinions of more than 2,000 researchers globally on the implications of Brexit on the academic community. The survey was conducted jointly by Elsevier and market research organisation Ipsos MORI.

'Being aware of researcher preferences for specific actions in response to Brexit within three broad categories – funding, mobility and collaboration – is important to help guide informed decision making,' said Nick Fowler, Elsevier’s chief academic officer. 'While it’s not surprising to see that researchers have concerns around the implications of Brexit, this study offers policy makers in academia and government, both within and outside the UK, insights into researchers’ preferences.'

Researchers globally – and particularly those in the UK – support tapping into alternative sources as EU funds threaten to dry up for UK science post-Brexit. However, 78 per cent of UK-based researchers also indicate they want the European Union to ensure that UK research institutions continue to have access to EU Horizon 2020/FP9 research grants on the same basis as their counterparts in countries that remain in the European Union. Furthermore, 54 per cent of researchers globally support the concept of creating a global research body similar to European Research Council.

'A sense of uncertainty over what happens next and the implications for the EU and UK research community regarding Brexit has been evident for some time,' added Andrew Johnson, director of social research at Ipsos MORI. 'What is more urgently discussed now are solutions and actions which mitigate against risk. Researchers clearly have views on this which deserve careful consideration.'

Aside from the issue of funding, researchers would like to see the UK government make maintaining cross-border mobility a priority: 90 per cent of UK-based researchers want the UK government to ensure the current free movement for EU researchers who wish to work in the UK. Support for this is also strong among EU researchers (80 per cent) and non-EU researchers (70 per cent). Some 72 per cent of researchers globally would like to see simpler procedures for visa and British citizenship applications for EU researchers.

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