Talent and ideas needed for post-Brexit Growth

04 July 2018

This week, the Government is finalising its Brexit White Paper ahead of make or break negotiations that will ultimately determine the UK’s future outside of the EU. It is vital this time is used to secure the foundations for future collaboration with our European partners. The flow of talent and ideas is the lifeblood of a successful knowledge economy and should be a top Government priority.

Close ties with our partners in Europe is essential for the UK’s long-term economic health and to tackle global challenges facing our societies. It is through collaborative working that universities and businesses in the UK and Europe have made great strides in medicine, public policy, engineering and technology, including in the Grand Challenge areas identified in the UK’s industrial strategy.  


The Government should prioritise securing an early, and overarching, agreement with the EU which focusses on continued cooperation in the fields of science, research, innovation and education and which builds on our existing links.

Government should pursue as near frictionless movement of talent and ideas as possible between the UK and EEA, including students, academics and other research workers, after the transition period ends. As part of this, for those coming to work or study for short periods, who will not be long-term migrants, only a light-touch registration should be required through a process that uses the new IT platform developed for the registration of those EEA nationals covered by the settlement scheme.

Now that the outline of the new Horizon Europe programme is known, with its focus on excellence and open science, the Government should commit to full association for the UK so that we can participate right from the start.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“The much-awaited White Paper is an unmissable opportunity to provide certainty about Brexit and what it will mean for the UK’s future economic health. The country’s research community, including universities and business, urgently want to see meaningful commitments from the Government on the frictionless movement of talent and ideas, which is essential for a healthy knowledge economy.

“Everyone recognises these are complex negotiations, but there are real concerns that divisions in the Government will thwart progress. It’s time to put politics aside, for the sake of the national interest.”



  • 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 €100 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.



Related case studies

Media Enquiries
Policy Enquiries

Follow us on Twitter