Reading and EU Research Before and After Brexit: the facts
The University of Reading is one of the world’s leading research universities. It is important to our success, and the success of our European partners, that we continue to work together on research.
Following the EU referendum vote in the UK, there has been some uncertainty about the future of European-funded research at British universities. In statements on 13 August 2016 and again on 11 October 2016, the UK government has provided some welcome guarantees about maintaining EU research funding beyond the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
On 13 August 2016, the UK government announced initial measures to continue EU research funding. Not only will all current Horizon 2020-funded projects be fully honoured, but new grant contracts signed before the UK formally leaves the EU will be honoured for their full duration.
In addition, it is now understood – although not yet officially confirmed – that any Horizon 2020 funding proposal submitted before the UK formally leaves the EU will also receive the same guarantee.
While the final timetable for UK withdrawal from the EU has not yet been set, Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the two-year negotiation period will begin by the end of March 2017. This means the UK is unlikely to formally leave the EU before mid-2019.
Based on this understanding, the funding guarantee would mean that a new five-year research programme submitted from a UK university just before the formal Brexit, and planned to begin the following year, could be fully funded until as late as 2025.
What we knew following the referendum vote hasn't changed:
- Business as usual: There are currently no changes to UK involvement in EU-funded research. A UK government statement and an article by the EU Commissioner have confirmed that there will be no immediate change to UK funding of, and participation in, EU research programmes, including Horizon 2020.
- UK participation is not a risk to funding success: UK academics are fully eligible to participate in EU proposals. Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation has provided assurances that UK researchers should not face any discrimination when bids are assessed. All application evaluators are now being given specific additional instructions that they should not evaluate proposals with UK participants any differently than before.
- Reading will continue to apply for new EU research funding: The University of Reading is committed to supporting applications to EU research schemes, and is offering additional help for staff for the development and submission of applications. For more details on how to access this help, see these FAQs.
- Reading can continue to lead EU research bids: There is no change to the participation of UK institutions in EU programmes at the moment. Therefore, Reading academics are still able to co-ordinate proposals, and should continue to do so.
Last updated: 12 October 2016
Commitment to Research
- Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell published an open letter on 24 June 2016 setting out the University's full response to the referendum result
- EU Referendum frequently asked questions
- The European Commission's statement on Brexit and research funding
- The UK's statement on higher education and research following the referendum
- UK government statement guaranteeing EU research funding after Brexit
Frequently asked questions
Following a meeting with research staff in July 2016, and further discussions with researchers, Research & Enterprise Services (RES) has collated the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) for staff currently involved with or planning to submit grants for EU-funded research projects.
- Are Reading academics still able to apply to Horizon 2020 and other EU-funded research programmes?
- Should Reading researchers continue to bid for EU funding?
- Will this affect Horizon 2020 grants I have currently?
- Will applications I am about to submit, or plan to in the next year, be affected?
- Can UK institutions still co-ordinate EU bids?
- Will UK participation in EU proposals be viewed as a risk to their success? What should we tell our collaborators to convince them we should remain active partners?
- How do we report any instances of UK partners being excluded or asked to take on different roles as a result of Brexit?
Yes. There will be no immediate change to the UK university sector's ability to participate in EU research and innovation programmes such as Horizon 2020. This was confirmed in a statement on 27 June from UK universities minister Jo Johnson, and in a speech delivered at the Wellcome Trust on 30 June. This has also been confirmed by the EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Carlos Moedas.
The long term future of UK participation in European research programmes will be decided as part of the UK's exit negotiations. These talks are not expected to begin until the first quarter of 2017 (by March 2017) and are expected to take up to two years. The UK will remain an EU member during this time and as such will be entitled to participate in EU programmes and apply for EU research grants.
Regular updates will be made available on the Universities UK – Brexit FAQs website.Should Reading researchers continue to bid for EU funding?
Yes, absolutely. Nothing has changed at this stage. The UK remains a full member of the European Union, and there are no changes to the UK’s status in Horizon 2020 or any other EU funding programmes.
It is therefore important to continue to apply for EU funds. If we don’t, it could mean missing out on major funding opportunities, particularly in areas like the European Research Council (ERC), the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), and many societal challenges.
RCUK released a statement on 6 July stating that "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 the European funding schemes as normal."
The University has also stated its continued support for EU applications. To ensure the development and submission of potential applications, the University can provide funding, to help pay for travel to consortium meetings, or to help cover teaching commitments, for example. If you would like to apply for funding, please email the office of Deputy Vice Chancellor Steve Mithen directly, via email@example.com.Will this affect Horizon 2020 grants I have currently?
No. On 13 August 2016, the UK government announced initial measures to continue EU research funding. Not only will all current Horizon 2020-funded projects be fully honoured, but new grant contracts signed before the UK formally leaves the EU will be honoured for their full duration. It is also understood – although not confirmed by the UK government – that applications that are submitted but not confirmed before the final Brexit will also receive the same guarantee.Will applications I am about to submit, or plan to in the next year, be affected?
No. As mentioned before, nothing has changed at this stage. The UK continues to remain a full member of the European Union, and so we can still apply for proposals at the current time, and as mentioned above, all new grant contracts signed before the UK formally exits the EU will be honoured for their full duration.Can UK institutions still co-ordinate EU bids?
Yes. There is no change to the UK’s participation in EU programmes at the moment and so UK institutions are still able to co-ordinate proposals.Will UK participation in EU proposals be viewed as a risk to their success? What should we tell our collaborators to convince them we should remain active partners?
As stated, we are fully eligible to participate and be funded in EU proposals – it is still business as usual. Carlos Moedas, the European commissioner for research, science, and innovation has provided reassurances that UK scientists should not be discriminated against during any part of the assessment process. He has issued a statement reassuring UK researchers that their eligibility for Horizon 2020 applications remains unchanged. In addition, all application evaluators are now being given specific additional instructions that they should not evaluate proposals with UK participants any differently than before.
You should also reassure partners that UK institutions are still eligible to apply and receive grants and that all agreements signed before the UK’s formal exit will be honoured for their full duration.
The University has created a website providing information for EU students and external collaborators, accessible from a link on the University homepage.
Research & Enterprise Services (RES) is currently working on guidance text about Brexit and involvement of UK partners that can be included in the risk assessment part of collaborative proposals. Contact your EU funding manager more information.How do we report any instances of UK partners being excluded or asked to take on different roles as a result of Brexit?
It is important that we gather any evidence that UK partners are experiencing difficulties in accessing or applying for EU research funding.
If you have any evidence that this is occurring or has occurred contact your EU Funding Manager, who will provide you with a template response form. Once filled out, this should be sent to Research@beis.gov.uk – with a copy to your EU Funding Manager. This will allow the University, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (formerly the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) to collect evidence. The University will also pass on any evidence to the UK Research Office (UKRO) in Brussels.