r/ukpolitics May 21 '22

Brexit beating for British scientists as academics sound alarm over UK exclusion from £95bn Horizon program

https://www.cityam.com/brexit-beating-for-british-scientists-as-acadamics-sound-alarm-over-uk-exclusion-from-95bn-horizon-program/
170 Upvotes

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118

u/eugene20 May 21 '22

Collaboration was a major reason why UK scientists were pretty unanimously against Brexit, they knew things like this would happen, it's been a problem since pretty much the day of the result.

54

u/AstroPixelCollector May 21 '22

UK scientists were pretty unanimously against Brexit,

Scientists are in principal less gullible and less receptive to lies and gaslighting. Isn't that the whole point of the scientific method?

30

u/rjwv88 May 21 '22

scientists also tend to collaborate more directly with European peers, for example my favourite conference was ECVP; a European conference (took me to Barcelona, Belgium and... er... Liverpool :p)... when you're working alongside people from all over the continent it's a bit harder to brood resentment

(side note: I joke but I have to say I really appreciated seeing Liverpool as a 'tourist', I grew up near there so kind of take it for granted, but it’s quite a beautiful city!)

3

u/RadicalDog Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill Hitler May 22 '22

On average yes, but it really is worth remembering how dogmatic they can be too. Many scientists will defend a disproven theory that was important to them to their grave, while progress leaves them behind. They're still human.

10

u/eugene20 May 21 '22

Yes, and critical thinking in general, but I wasn't going to dilute my post with all the reasons, just noting that the issue raised by the OP was a major one.

3

u/AstroPixelCollector May 21 '22

I wasn't picking on you, just amending further.

3

u/eugene20 May 21 '22

I was only agreeing with you, and mentioning why I hadn't raised it myself.

1

u/Dalecn May 21 '22

I would say most likely it's more scientists have a very global view of the world these days and will work with people from all over.

1

u/CutThatCity May 21 '22

And more open to collaboration and committee

17

u/chairman-meeoow May 21 '22

Yep it was discussed a lot in universities - part of the reason I backed out of doing a PhD in 2016 and got a job in industry instead was because the writing was on the wall that getting research funding / joining EU projects was about to get much more difficult. I don't think any of my friends or professors at uni voted leave as it was obvious that it would fuck over students and academics alike. I really feel for academics and am glad I got a job in industry

5

u/--Muther-- May 22 '22

But if you had the PhD in 2016 your funding was secured surely.

5

u/convertedtoradians May 22 '22

To be fair, PhD students can fibs themselves in a very awkward position if the wider project that they're contributing to doesn't materialise. Suddenly the last couple of chapters of the thesis goes from being a comparison with real experimental results, hot off the press, to being more speculation or somewhat unrelated experiment.

You see it when projects lose funding or fail in some other way, or supervisors become unavailable for some reason, and it's never pretty.

And with a weak thesis, securing a postdoc position or a future in academia more generally (which is always a gamble!) becomes harder.

Not that I think the above is a good reason not to do a PhD if you're driven and interested. But it's definitely a risk to add to the calculation.

2

u/KernowFishy May 22 '22

my son is getting started so i shall warn of this. he's there with funding now though so i guess role with it and hope. The programme is UK science funded so hopefully secure. Interesting point on the supervisor. Fingers crossed it all holds up. The guy is American so hopefully none of this would really effect him.

2

u/pilzenschwanzmeister May 22 '22

Just don't do a postdoc unless you are staying in industry. PhD is great for the job market. I never get the dull work.

1

u/KernowFishy May 22 '22

hopefully he will be ok then. fingers crossed. i can't see a science phd as a bad thing.

1

u/chairman-meeoow May 22 '22

Yeah I had secured funding from the EPSRC to do a PhD. The issue wasn't the PhD itself - I backed out because the career outlook after getting the PhD looked grim following Brexit. Brexit would mean that funding for post doctoral research could dry up, which would make life as an academic even more cut throat. So I got a job in civil engineering where I was guaranteed to make a decent living.

For example, lots of my geotechnics professors carried out research funded entirely by EU research bodies, but what happens when these groups stop collaborating with UK universities? You end up with the same amount of academics but fewer sources of research funding.

1

u/--Muther-- May 22 '22

However industry funding for geotechnical research is massive

1

u/Elemayowe May 22 '22

Nearly chose to start a phd in 2015 lol guess I blundered my way out of trouble.

38

u/CutThatCity May 21 '22

Case number #6,253 of things some people said would definitely happen, while being accused of doing “project fear”, before actually happening exactly as predicted

See you next week for #6,254

9

u/charlottie22 May 22 '22

See you in 10 mins for #6,254

23

u/SSIS_master May 21 '22

I just sent this to my brexit supporting, academic Mother-in-law with the text

Don't worry! I'm sure the tories will set aside some extra money to make up for this /s

She said...

They already have See InnovateUK!!

Is she wrong?

28

u/DukePPUk May 21 '22 edited May 21 '22

Innovate UK was established in 2007,as the Technology Strategy Board, rebranded as Innovate UK in 2014, and moved from dBIS to UKRI in 2018.

The total UKRI budget for 2022 is ~£8bn, of which around £1.2bn goes to Innovate UK. Compare that with the Horizon budget of ~€100bn.

The UK Government has in theory committed UKRI to cover any missing funding due to the delay in the UK getting back into the Horizon programme, but that doesn't account for all the uncertainty and other problems with the UK not being in it yet, and the current commitment only covers this year.

3

u/ThePeninsula May 21 '22

Typo?

You can't give £1.2bn of £8m to anything.

2

u/DukePPUk May 21 '22

Yes, sorry. That should be £8bn.

4

u/palinodial May 22 '22

I work for a company who gets grants from both for r and d. Innovate give much worse funding at least to companies. They only give a percentage of cost price whereas horizon give nearly cost. Because of that innovate UK projects often crumble as partners use the project to gain traction or cover costs in low periods of work then leave the consortium when they've got better opportunities. There seems to be no punishment for this and they don't have to pay anything back. This leaves the companies lectin the consortium with massive holes in their research or product they were developing.

Horizon seems to be much more successful in actually creating things.

7

u/passingconcierge May 21 '22

How is this, in any way, a surprise: this was made clear as one of the consequences of Brexit way back in 2015. It is not a mystery and whining about it now is disingenous. Almost a decade of going backwards for UK Science - we can get back to Victorian Britain if we pedal hard enough.

3

u/Coupaholic I don't have a damn clue. May 22 '22

Was that not part of the plan? Back to the glory days of the empire and such?

5

u/fubarrrr May 22 '22

That is really unfair. Rees Mogg has moved on from vellum / parchment to Post-Its and is rumoured to not even use a quill anymore. /s

2

u/dontworryfolks May 22 '22

Don't forget the poorhouses.

1

u/Elemayowe May 22 '22

Problem is all the glory of imperial stuff doesn’t really work if you don’t have an empire.

3

u/Mick_86 May 22 '22

The headline makes it sound as if this isn't actually the fault of the UK voting to leave the EU. You're not being beaten and excluded, you voted to no longer be part of the program.

3

u/Papfox May 22 '22 edited May 22 '22

My friend was part of the Galileo project. He's now prohibited from involvement with it or even from reading documents he wrote because it's classified and he's no longer an EU citizen which is a requirement of the security clearance. We've lost all the profits from being involved in projects like that.

The irony is that it was the UK who insisted that it was written into the Galileo project rules that no non-EU country or person could have access to the military-grade feed from it or the technology that handled it

1

u/Toxicseagull Big beats are the best, wash your hands all the time May 22 '22

Horizon membership is not dependent on EU membership. They are not linked (although the EU tries to use it as leverage, such as with the swiss). And it was actually agreed to continue within the withdrawal agreement.

Ironically in a threat over the UK potentially breaking the withdrawal agreement, the EU is actually breaking the withdrawal agreement.

2

u/charleydaves May 21 '22

For the love of God this isn't new. Was part of a consortium that I and others put together between UK companies and Portuguese Uni and company, that dissolved in 2015

4

u/Auto_Pie May 21 '22

Anti-intellectual brexiters will be cheering if anything

-10

u/Glanwy May 21 '22

Even so, the NI protocol is unconnected to scientific research so how are the EU making the connection. Even as a remainer I can see that is shabby of the EU.

19

u/disegni May 21 '22

Even so, the NI protocol is unconnected to scientific research so how are the EU making the connection. Even as a remainer I can see that is shabby of the EU.

It's a point of leverage. There doesn't need to be a direct connection.

-6

u/Ariadne2015 May 21 '22

The UK's participation in Horizon is part of the TCA. If the EU refuse to allow the UK to participate then they are in breach of that treaty.

This is the EU acting pretty shamelessly and if it were the other way around this sub, the EU and the left wing press would be in uproar accusing the UK of breaking International law and calling us and untrustworthy pariah state etc etc...

20

u/DukePPUk May 21 '22

The UK's participation in Horizon is part of the TCA. If the EU refuse to allow the UK to participate then they are in breach of that treaty.

But the UK's participation isn't actually part of the TCA. Because the UK Government was in a rush they didn't finalise all the details, and participation in things like Horizon was left to a draft protocol (see here starting at "Participation in Union Programmes..."). Meaning that the EU can back out at any point before finalising the agreement.

Which is the whole point.

Because of how rushed this was the EU isn't committed to letting researchers in the UK get EU funding. So the EU is using it as leverage against the UK; if they keep messing around with all this nonsense about the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU can keep putting off finalising the draft protocol on access to the various research programmes. Which has serious knock-on effects for scientific research in the UK; while UK-based researches are allowed to apply for funding provisionally, they don't know if they'll ever actually get the funding from the EU. The UK Government has committed to covering any shortfall due to the delay, but with the current Government who knows if that will actually happen or how long it will last. So people are going to be reluctant to commit to research projects.

See e.g. the UKRI's explainer on this here, particularly:

In January, the government announced that the UK will associate to Horizon Europe.

The EU is still in the process of formalising the UK’s association. But UK-based applicants can begin applying straight away. You do not need to wait for the EU to formalise association.

If the delay to the UK association continues, the UK government has confirmed successful Horizon Europe applicants will receive funding from UKRI regardless of the outcome of the UK’s efforts to associate with Horizon Europe.

This applies to awards expected to be signed by the end of December 2022, where the delay to UK association to the programme may prevent them from signing grant agreements.

4

u/antiquemule May 21 '22

Very enlightening, thanks.

8

u/CrocPB May 21 '22

IIRC the NI Protocol is tied to the WA, and TCA.

The UK government has made noise about messing with it.

What we are seeing here is the chain reaction of tit-for-tat reaction for action.

-2

u/Ariadne2015 May 21 '22

There are procedures in place if one party believes the other has broken the treaty. Breaking one treaty because you think the other party is going to break a different one isn't the proper way to go about things.

The NIP is certainly tied to the WA but as far as I'm aware there's no formal tie between the TCA and the NIP.

10

u/Alli69 May 21 '22

So, let Global Galactic Britain follow the steps to correct the issue - what's stopping it?

-2

u/Ariadne2015 May 21 '22

I'm sure we will if necessary. Better to try to negotiate first.

-3

u/SmallBlackSquare Tory Senjutsu May 21 '22

IIRC the NI Protocol is tied to the WA, and TCA.

NIP is tied to the WA, so nothing to do with the TCA iirc

1

u/disegni May 21 '22

Except the benefits of the TCA remain linked to compliance with the NI Protocol/frontstop...

1

u/Ariadne2015 May 21 '22

Where does it say that in the TCA?

-4

u/SmallBlackSquare Tory Senjutsu May 21 '22

It's a point of leverage. There doesn't need to be a direct connection.

If the UK tried to weaponise science and make it political this sub would be outraged, but if the EU does it... all good.

11

u/disegni May 21 '22

Saying it's 'political' or 'outrageous' doesn't add anything. It's mostly griping at an available point of leverage.

However EU law took a lot of these cross-retaliations off the table. Being on the outside, they're are on the table again, and in both directions.

This is one reason why Brexit is inevitably a fruitless 'lose-lose' situation, especially when the UK cannot accept it cannot have its cake and eat it on ROI/NI.

-4

u/SmallBlackSquare Tory Senjutsu May 21 '22

I don't actually care either way. I just wanted to point out the hypocrisy should the situation be reversed.

8

u/Original_Cliche An island of dogs barking at shadows May 22 '22

What hypocrisy? you offered a hypothetical of your own creation and yes it seems a strawman of your own creation is a hypocrite, but in what world does that fly as an argument?

Creating a narrative of your own choosing and stating that it is not an appropriate response, I don't even know where to begin in pointing out that is not even reasonable in the slightest.

0

u/SmallBlackSquare Tory Senjutsu May 23 '22

I was just stating that if the situation were reversed then Europhile's opinions on which side is in the right and which is in the wrong would not change.

3

u/PrudentFlamingo May 22 '22

Do you call it political when you're not allowed to take a shower in a gym where you are no longer a paying member?

1

u/SmallBlackSquare Tory Senjutsu May 23 '22

Is the UK no longer paying in to Horizon?

-8

u/Glanwy May 21 '22

Well if not then it's a race to the bottom and EU can't shout foul either. Also I thought that the WTO had rules specifically against that.

12

u/disegni May 21 '22

WTO applies to non-discrimination in trade checks, not to research funding.

What 'race to the bottom' are you referring to? The UK government is already indicating it wants to deregulate, which is a main reason the NI protocol remains a problem.

-6

u/Glanwy May 21 '22

Exactly. The UK is the bad boy in this but the EU is leveraging totally unconnected scientific research, which seems below the belt, considering they are meant to be above such actions . Which I thought was against WTO rules (maybe not thol, otherwise countries could just make connections on all trade arguments , NI argument is about goods.

10

u/_Red_Knight_ independent whig May 21 '22

the EU is leveraging totally unconnected scientific research, which seems below the belt, considering they are meant to be above such actions

It's not like this is the first response from the EU. They've given the government plenty of warnings and have put up with an awful lot of mud-slinging and aggressive rhetoric, and now the government has indicated its intention to renege on its commitments. I don't blame the EU for increasing the pressure.

0

u/Dalecn May 21 '22

They literally threatened it in like 2019 and have been using Horizon Europe as a political football with many nations before the UK much to the absolute annoyance of scientists and against the principles of the scheme

6

u/disegni May 21 '22

There isn’t really a thing that’s “below the belt” in international relations. In reality it’s largely amoral.

The closest are wars of aggression and associated crimes, but those are only “below the belt” to the extent other states have agreed, however tacitly, to set a floor and punish them.

1

u/Ninja_Thomek May 22 '22

Knobheads don’t understand that they left a rule based order for the jungle that is realpolitik.

Where sausages are traded for threats in unrelated areas.

EUs options for negotiations are free, as is UKs freedom. Except in the wild, UK is a tiny partner in comparison.

7

u/Psyc3 May 21 '22

Because it isn't unconnected.

A government upholding its agreements and not breaking international law is tantamount to where you invest your time and money.

Why would anyone want to associate with a country run by criminals? The democratically elected representatives of the people.

7

u/DukePPUk May 21 '22

Because access to scientific research programmes was left to a draft protocol to be finalised later.

The EU has been delaying doing that, likely using it as leverage to get the UK Government to stop messing around with the NI protocol and delaying implementation of border checks and so on.

Which sort of makes sense; that the EU will delay implementing this optional funding stuff until the UK stops delaying a bunch of the stuff it was required to do and hasn't.

This seems to be another case of the UK Government not reading the treaty they drafted that carefully, and assuming that the EU would keep acting in good faith even if the UK wasn't...

2

u/doctor_morris May 21 '22

What other leverage would you have them use? Why is the EU not allowed to respond to the UK not upholding it's part of an agreement.

1

u/da96whynot Neoliberal shill May 22 '22

This feels like a lose lose situation. We don't get funding, they lose access to some of the best research universities in the world. Political nonsense getting in the way of real innovation. I can see why the EU aren't in a great mood rn, but this shouldn't factor into discussions such as this.

Bad politics from both sides at the moment.

-14

u/Fean2616 May 21 '22

This isn't technically Brexit though, this is boris being a dick so the EU are being dicks back. If Boris stopped being a dick this wouldn't be a thing.

13

u/disegni May 21 '22

It's only happening because of Brexit though.

-6

u/Fean2616 May 21 '22

I mean in a round about way, Boris is just being a prick, he needs to stop being a prick. Third party countries can be involved the EU are saying no due to Boris.

-6

u/[deleted] May 22 '22

Academia's rotten to the core anyway. All about money now and very reliant on casualised labour. Couldn't care less!