At this morning's Exiting the EU Questions I had the opportunity to ask the Minister about the effect of leaving the EU on participation rates in the Horizon 2020 research funding programme, and in the Erasmus + programme.
There a three universities in Cardiff Central and I have continually pressed the government on assurances for their futures after Brexit. The UK's universities rely on international, and European, co-operation in order to attract the best minds and continue their world-leading work.
As usual a clear reply from the government was not forthcoming, with the Minister confirming that the UK would remain part of the Horizon 2020 scheme up to its current end point in 2020 but it was not clear that any discussions had taken place about the future of research funding beyond this point. The Minister also declined to make any statement at all on the Erasmus + programme.
Jo Stevens MP:
Question number 7 Mr Speaker
[Question: What assessment has he made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on (a) UK participation rates in Horizon 2020 and (b) university admissions.]
Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union:
The latest figures from the commission show that the UK has the second highest number of participations in Horizon 2020 out of all countries with 8,056 participations to date, 12.6% of the total. Higher and secondary education organisations are performing particularly well, ranking first for participations and agreed funding. The majority of mobile EU students who study in Europe choose to do so in the UK and 2017 data on applications full-time higher education indicates the number of international students wanting to study in the UK is higher than in 2016. While there was a slight dip in the applications for EU students in 2017 versus 2016, EU domiciled applications were still higher than 2015, 2014 or 2013.
Jo Stevens MP:
Can the minister confirm that the Government will seek to secure early agreement with the EU on arrangements for underwriting Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ bids - but made up until the end of the programme for their full duration?
Robin Walker MP:
I would refer the honourable lady to the positive news in the joint statement that was agreed last week which reflects the fact that we’ve agreed to work together on this and that the length of the Horizon 2020 programme, to 2020, we will continue to be able to bid into that scheme.