Post-Brexit Britain could decline from “second in the world to 20th” in higher education and research if the inflow of academic talent is restricted and the nation exits the European Union research frameworks, UCL president Michael Arthur has warned MPs. The Times Higher Education reports.
Professor Arthur, who leads on Brexit issues for the Russell Group, made the comment at a hearing on science and research issues held by the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee.
Witnesses giving evidence to the Exiting the EU committee – also including Sarah Main, executive director of CaSE, and Beth Thompson, head of policy at the Wellcome Trust – stressed the importance of the UK taking part in the EU’s Framework Programme 9 as an associated country, while also warning against imposing a visa system for EU researchers seeking to enter the UK after Brexit.
A White Paper on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system for EU nationals is expected before Parliament’s summer recess.
Asked by Labour MP Emma Reynolds what the impact of applying the current visa system to EU nationals would be, Professor Arthur told the committee: “In 20 years’ time, instead of being second in the world to the United States of America, I’m worried that we will be 20th or so…and part [of the reason] will be this insidious onset of inability to recruit the world’s greatest talent.”
Professor Arthur replied: “The honest answer is none of us know what the impact will be of a significant exit from EU research and funding. We’re worried about it and we need to express it in ways that get people to understand the magnitude of change that could occur.”
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