Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Brexit and Social/Behavioural Science in the UK

Below is written in a personal capacity. It does not reflect any institutional position. 

I will use this link to post useful information on this area, focusing on implications for research in our areas rather than on the wider implications of Brexit. There are many citizens from other EU countries working in UK research and academic organisations and UK citizens working in the wider EU who read this blog who will have been affected by the result. Also, more generally UK social science is heavily interconnected with Europe and anyone working in research in the UK will need to think about this. Many of the below links focus on practical aspects of research such as residency requirements, funding, and international collaboration. There is also clearly an emotional component. I have heard several people describe feeling shocked by the result, feeling unwelcome in the UK, and feeling uncertain about their career. Some of this is maybe due to the salience of what has been a very acrimonious debate and will settle down a bit in time. Also some of it is due to the fact that the nature of the debate has created a lot of pure ambiguity, which is likely to create more anxiety than the usual career risks. Whatever people's views and feelings, it is clear that research is an international endeavor with complex career tracks and many readers, due to the nature of research, will have to make decisions in the near future about how to progress their career and research plans.  Hopefully the next few months will see more clarity as to the situation in the UK and wider EU and I will use this post to put up any useful links, and bounce it back up to the top of the blog from time-to-time. Suggestions very welcome.

Links and Resources 

Most universities have posted a message to their students and staff regarding the situation (e.g. see the message from our Principal). Most universities have been stressing that nothing will change in the short-run from a formal perspective.

This briefing note from the Academy of Social Sciences "The EU Referendum Leave: What next for UK social science?" contains a lot of useful information on the European dimension of social science in the UK, as does their previous briefing note  "The Implications of the EU Referendum for UK Social Science". (thanks to Professor Ron McQuaid for forwarding these). It is clear that UK institutions were doing well in European funding rounds, in particular in ERC. The documents outline clearly how much research funding goes to different disciplines from different schemes and is worth reading if you want to have a good sense of the magnitudes involved.

This very useful piece from December 2015 explores the relationship between EU membership and the effectiveness of science, research and innovation in the UK.

How much money do British universities get from the EU? (Full Fact)

ERC funding by country and call year:

(Hit 'start/show' to see the graph.

FP7 country participation and EU contribution:

Hantrais (2016) analyses UK funding under Horizon, FP7 and ERC.

Horizon 2020 Country Profile for UK (list of projects).

7th FP7 Monitoring report (See UK Country Profile on page 171):

FP7 Key facts and figures

As of 2014/10/06, a total of 48.258 eligible proposals were submitted in response to 487 FP7 calls for proposals involving 73.877 applicants from United Kingdom (14,21% of EU-28*) and requesting EUR 30.552,89m of EC contribution (15,72% of EU-28*)

Among the EU-28* United Kingdom (UK) ranks:
- 1st in terms of number of applicants and
- 1st in terms of requested EC contribution

Success rates:
The UK applicant success rate of 22,7% is higher than the EU-28* applicant success rate of 20,5%.
The UK EC financial contribution success rate of 19,6% is similar to the EU-28* rate of 19,2%.
Specifically, following evaluation and selection, a total of 10.281 proposals were retained for funding (21,3%) involving 16.768 (22,7%) successful applicants from United Kingdom and requesting EUR 5.988,72m (19,6%) of EC financial contribution.

Among the EU-28*, United Kingdom (UK) ranks:
- 7th in terms of applicants success rate and
- 8th in terms of EC financial contribution success rate

Signed grant agreements
As of 2014/10/06, United Kingdom (UK) participates in 10.344 signed grant agreements involving 85.834 participants of which 17.561 (20,46%) are from United Kingdom benefiting from a total of EUR 27.092,00m of EC financial contribution of which EUR 6.940,06m ( 25,62 %) is dedicated to participants from United Kingdom.
Among the EU-28* in all FP7 signed grant agreements, United Kingdom (UK) ranks:
- 2nd in number of participations and
- 2nd in budget share

SME performance and participation
The UK SME applicant success rate of 22,20% is higher than the EU-28* SME applicant success rate of 20,19%.
The UK SME EC financial contribution success rate of 23,05% is higher than the corresponding EU-28* rate of 20,12%.
Specifically, 14.438 UK SME applicants requesting EUR 4.137,89m
3.205 (22,20%) successful SMEs requesting EUR 953,75m (23,05%)

In signed grant agreements, as of 2014/10/06, 3.100 UK SME grant holders, i.e., 17,65% of total UK participation EUR 914,23m, i.e., 13,17% of total UK budget share

ERC Principal Investigators and Marie Curie Fellows
606 UK Principal Investigator(s) (16,78% of the total 3612 Principal Investigators for EU-28*) benefit from EUR 1.112,24m (18,34% of the total EUR 6.065,09m for EU-28*).1265 UK Marie Curie Fellow(s) (6,66% of the total 19005 Marie Curie Fellows for EU-28*) benefit from EUR 908,06m (5,14% of the total EUR 17.655,82m for EU-28*).

Top 5 collaborative links with:
1. DE - Germany (26.300)
2. FR - France (17.805)
3. IT - Italy (16.160)
4. ES - Spain (14.486)
5. NL - Netherlands (12.629)

The European Union’s contributionto UK higher education. Universities for Europe.

News/opinion articles

6th July 2016. UK social science will be dealt a serious blow by Brexit. Guardian.

"Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has created huge uncertainty for the entire research community - including social scientists. At stake is not just the loss of research funding – about £1bn a year, and 30% more than the UK puts into EU research budgets – but also our access to networks and infrastructure, which depend on freedom of movement.

Among participating countries in Horizon 2020, the EU’s flagship research programme, the UK holds the biggest share of signed grant agreements. Under the previous framework programme, the UK was second in terms of participant numbers and budget share.

Within this total, UK social science has done particularly well, at a time when UK government investment has declined. EU funding of UK social science has risen steadily since the financial crisis (outpacing a rise in EU funding of other UK disciplines), and social scientists have been highly successful in obtaining European Research Council grants (ranking first among EU member states on a number of measures). We have also benefitted from international collaboration, infrastructure, training and capacity building, like our colleagues in biomedical, natural and physical sciences, who are making similar arguments."

1st July 2016. Brexit was a huge shock for universities. Now we must regroup and deepen our European links. LSE Brexit blog.

8th Feb 2016. British universities excel in the social sciences. How much of their success depends on the EU? LSE Brexit blog.

5th December 2015. Debunking the myths about British science after an EU exit. LSE Brexit Blog.

11th Nov 2015. Leaving EU would be a 'disaster', British universities warn. Guardian.

"And proportionately, British universities do very well indeed out of the pooled EU resources. The UK contributes just over 11% of the EU’s budget, but during the last seven-year EU funding programme, known as FP7, won 15.5% – about €7bn (£5bn) – of the sums awarded. Last year alone, under the current Horizon 2020 funding programme, British institutions secured £687m of EU research funding.

The UK also does disproportionately well out of EU academic mobility and foreign exchange programmes such as the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (Maca), which allow European university staff members to spend periods of time working abroad. British institutions collected almost €1.1bn, or nearly one quarter of the total pool available, over the duration of FP7.

And in the most prestigious research programme of all, the ERC, whose grants are awarded solely on the basis of research excellence, UK-based research has so far secured more than a fifth of all funds disbursed. From 2007-13, in fact, four British institutions – Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial – were among the 10 most successful recipients, between them hosting some 380 ERC projects, each worth between €1.5m and €2.5m and typically employing a team of six top scientists."

There is currently a Parliamentary inquiry underway that is taking submissions across the following areas:
The Committee intends to hold hearings on this inquiry during July, and invites written submissions during that period, which might address the following issues:  
1. What the effect of the various models available for the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be on UK science and research, in terms of:
Free movement of researchers and students;
Access to funding;
Access to EU-funded research facilities, both in the UK and abroad
Intellectual property and commercialisation of research
2. What the science and research priorities for the UK Government should be in negotiating a new relationship with the EU.
3. What science and technology-related legislation, regulations and projects will need to be reviewed in the run up to the UK leaving the EU.
4. The status of researchers, scientists and students working and studying in the UK when the UK leaves the EU, and what protections should be put in place for them.
5. The opportunities that the UK’s exit presents for research collaboration and market access with non-EU countries, and how these might compare with existing EU arrangements.
6. What other measures the Government should undertake to keep UK science and research on a sound footing, with sufficient funding, after an EU exit.

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