Research in post-Brexit Britain “New Neighbours – Old Friends”

Posted on behalf of Matt Bentley, Deputy Dean – Research & Professional Practice

Now that the shock and post-referendum gloom has faded a little, we face the reality that for Higher Education in the UK, as well as in a host of other areas, things will never be the same again. Theresa May has now made it clear that she and her government will enact Article 50 by March 2017 to trigger Britain’s exit from the EU, which is likely to be complete by 2019. The next three years will be a critical period for research in UK HEIs including BU. In the Faculty of Science and Technology we have achieved some notable recent successes in both EU and RCUK funding across our seven Research Centres, and bidding activity has seen a marked increase over the past two years. We cannot afford to turn our back on our EU collaborators and must hope that the bonds of collaborative research will be stronger than the ties offered by EU funding. The government is attempting to mitigate the impact of loss of EU funding by underwriting existing research commitments and also by offering new funding routes through the Global Challenges Research Fund. It will be important to keep our relationships with our old friends in Europe warm.

At the same time we will find ourselves with new neighbours on the global research stage. BU has made great strides over the past year in fostering global relationships though the Global BU, whilst principally the focus has been on education and mobility, there are fantastic opportunities in research. In a thought provoking article published on the BBC website-pre-Brexit Could the UK be the Atlantic Singapore? Karishma Vaswani, the Asia Business Correspondent highlights how Singapore’s success has depended on building relationships with its neighbours through ASEAN. Britain might find that working with new neighbours will be key to its future success, in research and other areas.

As I prepare to leave BU at the end of this month to take up a new position in Higher Education in Singapore I have mixed feelings. I have loved my time here over the past two years and seen BU make significant steps forwards in all areas of activity, not least in research. Also I am excited about the challenges that for me are ahead. I would be very keen to maintain links with BU after I have left and if I can help foster research links in Singapore I should be very pleased. Please do keep in touch!