The Political Economy Review 2017

membership of the EU, there remain questions as to whether the UK will continue as a significant recipient of, as well as contributor of, ERC funding given the future uncertainty of UK economic growth. Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, is another key source of funding to UK physicists. Euratom comprises the 28 EU member states and is heavily involved in funding major projects such as ITER, the world’s largest international nuclear fusion megaproject. Euratom does collaborate with non-EU countries, although legal ties still link it to the EU, so there is significant uncertainty as to whether Britain may be forced to leave the Treaty when it leaves the Union. This means that Britain’s involvement may be reduced in the relatively newer and more recently established projects such as ITER and the JET nuclear fusion facility for the relative short term, and it may have to renegotiate in order to continue in collaboration. Both CERN and ESA (the European Space Agency) were also founded before the EU, and therefore British membership is expected to continue. In November 2016, following campaigning by the UK scientific community, the government announced a further £2bn of investment in R&D in science and technology each year, until 2020. However, now as a minority government and with demands from all sides for cessation, or at least reduction, of austerity measures and increased spending in other key areas such as the NHS and benefits, the Conservative party may find itself unwilling or unable to continue its commitment to such investment and unable to make up any drop in funding as a direct or indirect consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Any change in government between now and 2020 could further put this earmarked funding in jeopardy. This would be extremely short-sighted. Funding in science and technology is vital to the re-structuring of the UK economy, if we see, as expected, a decline in other UK sectors including London’s role as the world’s leading financial centre. There is further uncertainty over the effect of Brexit on overseas students, and whether students will be included within the immigration cap figures potentially impacting tuition fee income, currently worth £1.1bn 4 , although some of any shortfall will be made up from the higher fees charged currently to non EU students but which will be charged to all international students after 2019. The status of scientists and technicians working in, and wishing to work in, the UK is another area of significant concern. If we are to ensure the UK’s status as a world leader in scientific innovation, we must ensure we have the staff to undertake, collaborate with, and support UK projects. UK universities currently employ over 31,000 non-EU academics and technicians; indeed 16% of all university workers, current and future staff are at threat of losing or being denied rights to live in the UK after Brexit. A commitment to allowing research staff to remain indefinitely is seen by the scientific and academic community as essential to ensuring the quality of UK science. But just as continued access to UK facilities by European colleagues is vital to the UK, so too is continued access to European facilities by British scientists. The UK hosts 6 pan-European research facilities, as well as 10 further facilities headquartered elsewhere Europe, but large-scale infrastructure is expensive, taking many years of planning and construction and requiring expertise from a wide range of industries as well as the scientific community. For this reason, large facilities such as the state of the art £700m Crick Institute, opened in London in 2016, are usually put together by international consortia, often supported by the EU and it is essential that free and unfettered access in both directions should continue after 2019. Reports by academics of exclusion from EU funded collaborations have been published, despite the fact that the UK remains a full member of the EU until at least 2019. In August 2016, the Head of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sheffield published emails from the European Coordinator of an EU network collaboration



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