The UK has the largest number of participants in the EU’s research programme and is the biggest destination for European students heading abroad, according to a Brexit “factsheet” published by the European University Association.
The EUA said the data show that the UK “has the largest number of publications and participants in Horizon 2020 [the EU’s current research programme] and manages 20 per cent of all the programme’s projects”.
The figures in the “EUA Brexit Factsheet: UK–European Research Collaboration and Student Mobility” also show that the UK “is by far the largest destination for mobile students, receiving almost 30 per cent of European students going abroad”, the EUA added.
There is still no certainty as to whether the UK will seek to, or be able to, remain a member of EU research programmes after Brexit.
Although the UK could seek to remain in the programmes as an associated country after Brexit, some believe that the EU could tie this status to the issue of free movement of people, as it has with Switzerland.
Leaving the EU would also mean that students coming from continental Europe to study in the UK would no longer be eligible for public-backed loans, and could be charged the same higher fees currently levied against non-EU students.
Thomas Jorgensen, the EUA’s senior policy coordinator, said: “The European system as a whole will suffer if this contribution [from the UK] is diminished as a result of Brexit.
“Mobility and collaboration are demonstrably increasing the quality of research and learning, and the UK plays a part in these collaborations that cannot be replaced.”
The EUA said it is “working actively to keep universities in the UK as close as possible to the rest of Europe, even after an exit from the union”.