Statement on the Brexit White Paper

12 July 2018

Close ties with our partners in Europe are essential for the UK’s long-term economic health and to tackle global challenges facing our societies. It is through collaborative working that British and European universities and businesses have made great strides in medicine, public policy, engineering and technology. The flow of talent and ideas is the lifeblood of a successful knowledge economy and will be critical to the UK’s success, post-Brexit.

We have been clear that continued UK/EU cooperation on science, innovation and education would be a win-win for both sides. We welcome the proposal for co-operative accords with the EU in these areas. The October EU Council meeting will be a critical moment in the negotiations and a great deal of work will be needed to flesh out today’s proposals by this point. Clarity on the precise shape and nature of the proposed accords is urgent.

Participating in the Horizon Europe research programme, worth nearly €100bn, would enable UK scientists to maintain strong links with their EU counterparts. The Government should not only “explore” UK participation, as set out in the White Paper, but should actively seek full association, from the outset of the programme.

The White Paper recognises the importance of keeping the UK open and attractive to EU students and researchers once free movement has ended. We now need detail on how this will work in practice. With regards to those individuals coming from the EU to work or study for short periods, who will not be long-term migrants, the Government should commit to a light-touch system, using the new IT platform developed for the registration of those EEA nationals covered by the settlement scheme.


  • There are 26,500 staff from EU countries working at our universities, representing 15% of the overall workforce, 23% of academics and 28% of staff on research-only contracts.
  • There are nearly 50,000 EU-domiciled students studying at Russell Group universities, representing 8% of students across all levels of study.
  • Horizon Europe will be the successor research and innovation programme to Horizon 2020. Horizon Europe will run from 2021-2027 and has a proposed budget of €94 billion.
  • Horizon 2020 is the EU Research and Innovation programme under which nearly €80 billion of funding is available between 2014 to 2020. Under Horizon 2020 the UK has so far received over €4.2 billion worth of funding and is placed second only to Germany in both the number of project participants and share of funding.

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