Today, The Times published a letter on behalf of 1,627 UK-based early career researchers, as part of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on leaving the EU: implications and opportunities for science and research inquiry. The Committee was seeking further contributions on the risks and opportunities of leaving the EU, to allow them to draw together a ‘risk assessment’ and a list of risks/opportunities which should feature in the Government’s work to set a new EU/UK negotiating strategy.
The letter was a short summary of their substantive full submission to the inquiry (of which I was co-signatory); we await the Committee’s final report in November.
In the face of Brexit, it is critical that the UK retains its reputation as a highly attractive country for young, talented scientists. We start from a strong position but the risks are great. We currently win more competitive funding from the European Research Council than any other EU member state. Our success heavily depends upon the free movement of international talent to our shores.
We are 1,632 early career researchers working in UK universities. All of us have completed our PhDs within the last decade. We represent the future of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In building our careers in the UK, we hope to maintain its leading position in cutting-edge research.
To secure the future of scientific research, the government must protect early career scientists by acting to maintain access to EU funding, and ensure the free movement of researchers. If these are lost during EU renegotiations, we insist that the government puts equivalent UK-backed schemes in place. Without this support there is a real threat that researchers may leave and establish themselves elsewhere, such as in the EU, America or Asia.
DR LAURENCE HUNT, senior research associate, University College London
DR HELEN BARRON, junior research fellow, Merton College, Oxford
DR BEN BRITTON, lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London
DR AIDAN HORNDER, lecturer, Psychology, University of York
DR JOHN LOGAN, research associate, Imperial College London;
on behalf of 1,627 UK-based early career researchers