Westminster must honour promise to replace EU science funding

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Arfon MP, Hywel Williams, has called on the UK Government to honour the promise made by Brexiteers that the EU’s research funding streams will be replaced, and commit to ensure Universities do not lose a penny after Brexit.

The Plaid Cymru MP has raised concerns that the UK Government’s failure to provide certainty for the future of science and research funding is threatening the future of Welsh education and science.

Identified research funding to Wales suggests that Welsh institutions received some €183.4m in total between 2002 and 2013 and a further €29m from lifelong learning funds, including Erasmus, over the 2007-13 period.

Earlier today, Professor Andrew Scott of Edinburgh University told Parliament’s Brexit Committee in Aberdeen that if European funding for Research and Development was not replaced, “we’d have a serious problem” and added that “if we cannot raise inward investment into R&D (research and development) to help bridge that commercialisation gap at this stage the sector may well just fail.”

Mr Williams pointed out that Bangor University alone has received close to £100m from the EU and warned that they expect to lose around half of its total research income if the UK does not replace the EU funding streams.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams, said:

“The science and research sectors in Wales are hugely valuable to our economy and ensure our Universities are known the world over. Cardiff University for example has recently risen to 6th in the UK for research excellence, ahead of the likes of UCL and King’s College and only one place behind the University of Cambridge.

“But the sector is also heavily dependent on the EU’s funding streams, which the Leave campaign promised us would be replaced by Westminster if we left the EU.

“The UK Government’s refusal to give a long-term commitment to replacing the EU’s research funding is threatening the future of our education and science sectors. Bangor University, in my constituency, could lose half of its total research funding if the UK does not commit to replacing the EU streams.

“The Government has rightly guaranteed funding for every Horizon 2020 project applied for and every Structural Funds project awarded before the UK leaves the European Union but there is currently no confirmation about whether the UK guarantee covers other EU programmes nor any confirmation as to replacement funding streams further down the line.

“Plaid Cymru advocates a ‘soft exit’ from the EU meaning continuing as members of the European Economic Area, the Single Market and the Customs Union which would ensure that these funding streams continue even when we leave the political union.

“It would also ensure Welsh universities can continue to benefit from the ERASMUS programme which is hugely valuable to students and to universities alike. It would allow Welsh Universities to continue to offer additional attractive activities and experiences to students and staff.

“The UK Government must make its position clear before more damage is done. If they won’t adopt Plaid Cymru’s preferred “soft exit” then they must, at the very least, honour the promises made by Brexiteers before the referendum, and commit to replacing these funding streams.”

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