UK v-cs lobby in Brussels on EU research cuts

Proposed Horizon 2020 changes could mean millions lost, says delegation

April 16, 2015

Source: Reuters

Clogged up: the proposal would divert €2.7 billion from the €80 billion fund

UK universities could lose millions of pounds of European Union research money if cuts to the EU’s flagship research and innovation fund are approved, the largest-ever overseas delegation of university leaders has warned.

On a visit to Brussels to lobby against the possible 10 per cent cuts to Horizon 2020, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said that the plans initiated by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker could severely damage research within universities across the continent.

Under the proposals, €2.7 billion (£1.95 billion) could be diverted from the six-year, €80 billion Horizon 2020 fund into a new European Fund for Strategic Investments for businesses and other institutions to create jobs over the next three years.

But Sir Leszek, who was part of a 50-strong delegation of senior university leaders, told a reception on 13 April that a failure to invest in pure research may actually harm future prosperity within the EU.

“Investment in basic research today leads to economic growth in the future,” he said.

Speaking to Times Higher Education, Sir Leszek said that the cuts would hit pure research in UK universities, which would be unable to borrow money to replace lost funds despite the existence of a loan scheme designed for this purpose.

“There are programmes in Horizon 2020 focused on pure research that cannot get this money back,” he said, adding that “€2.7 billion is a lot to give up from a programme we know works”.

Under the amended budget plans, the European Research Council would lose about €220 million and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions grants, which support early career researchers, would lose about €200 million, he said.

The cuts, which are backed by the European Commission and member states but opposed by MEPs, would amount to 3 per cent of EU research funds, of which the UK was predicted to receive about £2 billion in the next two years.

It follows a 7 per cent cut in like-for-like research funding under Horizon 2020 compared with the previous six-year framework, university leaders say. That is because, although the total research budget increased by 30 per cent, it must now cover areas previously included in other budgets.

Social sciences and humanities could be disproportionately hit by the cuts, said Sir Ian Diamond, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, who was among the Brussels delegation.

“Excellence in research is being challenged in every way by these cuts,” said Sir Ian, who was “incredibly worried” about the impact on social sciences and humanities.

jack.grove@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

 

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Research Assistant LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in University Study Skills UNIVERSITY OF HAFR AL BATIN
Lecturer in English Language UNIVERSITY OF HAFR AL BATIN

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest