The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Statement on Cuts to ODA-Funded Research

25 March 2021

The DPU strongly condemns recent cuts in UK Official Development Assistance (ODA or ‘foreign aid’) and, specifically, in cuts to ODA-funded research activities.


The UK’s use of ODA funds to support research with strong positive impact in the Global South has been instrumental in enabling the country to take a lead in tackling urgent global challenges, including global health, climate change and inequalities. This has been achieved through hugely impactful work and the development of strong ties with partners in the UK and overseas.

UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) is being forced to reduce their total ODA-funded budget by almost half and also to plug a £120 million ‘hole’ in funding that must come from funds already committed. This represents a clear decision on the part of Government to force universities to renege on contracted arrangements with partners and in so doing, those cuts undermine the very impact of work that has been done to date. As well as undermining the impact of research part-completed and breaking trust with colleagues, this will cost thousands of jobs in the UK and drive many Global South partners into insolvency.

In a year in which the UK is scheduled to host both a G7 Summit and COP26 and as the Government declares their intention to place research and innovation at the centre of their strategy to promote a ‘Global Britain’, these arbitrary cuts to research directly undermine those aspirations.

We call on the Government to urgently review this decision. We fully understand the need to act in a responsible manner, and note that the cancellation of commitments already made is neither contractually nor fiscally responsible in that it undermines trust and wastes funds already spent.