UK Varsities face problems with European partners post Brexit

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Top British universities are facing difficulties while working with their European partners after the Brexit vote, with academics are being asked to pull out of leadership roles and leave EU-funded projects.

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In a confidential survey of the UK’s Russell Group universities, reports of the backlash came from across the natural sciences, the engineering disciplines and social sciences.

British researchers receive about 1 billion pound a year from EU finding programmes such as Horizon 2020, but access to the money must be completely renegotiated under Brexit.

The Russell Group is made up of the UK’s 24 leading universities which have a commitment to high-class research. With Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London and Imperial College among their number, they are renowned for world-class research and academic excellence.

In a historic referendum on June 23, Britishers voted in favour of Britain leaving the 28-member European Union (EU).

Anecdotes reported as part of the survey include an EU project officer recommending that all UK partners be dropped from research group because their share of the funding was not guaranteed, according to the report.

In another case, a university reported that two social science collaborations with Dutch universities had been told partners from the UK were not welcome.

One university said that there had been “a substantial increase in definitive evidence” that EU projects were reluctant to collaborate with British partners.

Not all universities in the group responded to the survey and not all of those that submitted responses reported discrimination.