UK ministers urged to bridge post-Brexit EU structural funds gap

University-led projects ‘directly supporting local employers, jobs, and communities’ at risk, UUK tells government

三月 23, 2022

The UK government has been urged to bridge the post-Brexit funding gap left by the loss of European Union structural funds or risk seeing university-led projects “directly supporting local employers, jobs, and communities” collapse.

Following the UK’s exit from the EU and the loss of future access to the bloc’s European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), the Westminster government is creating the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to award £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025.

There are currently 192 university-led projects in England funded by £412 million of ESIF money, and 53 projects in Wales with £300 million investment from ESIF, “providing high quality skills training, and supporting local pay, employment, and productivity growth”, according to Universities UK.

“As many as 164 projects could stall or stop, though, as their European Union funding runs out by the end of next year and the UK Government’s full replacement funding does not come into effect until 2024-25,” UUK warns.

UUK has written to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, to outline its concerns.

Projects that could be impacted, it says, include FLEXIS App, led by Cardiff University, on the commercialisation of research to decarbonise future energy supply; Productivity Through Innovation (PTI), led by Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Derby, which aims to help some 200 local small and medium-sized enterprises increase turnover, competitiveness and profitability; and the University of Manchester’s Bridging The Gap programme to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of graphene and 2D materials, which has engaged with more than 200 SMEs, “generating new products and jobs”.

Alistair Jarvis, UUK’s chief executive, said: “Given the importance of universities to levelling up, the uncertainty around the implementation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, especially the timing, seriously threatens many projects in all four nations of the UK directly supporting local employers, jobs, and communities. We need clarity and continuation funding to fill the financial gaps otherwise community groups and businesses will miss out on vital training and upskilling opportunities.

“Many universities do not have the money to fund these projects themselves in this tough economic climate of rising inflation, the further freezing of tuition fee levels, and higher pension and national insurance costs.”



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