UCL News


Uncertainty on cuts to research funding risks jeopardising UK’s position as a scientific superpower

30 March 2021

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), comments on recent uncertainty about, and cuts to, research funding:

Two researchers in a cancer research laboratory

“From the rapid generation of vaccines by UK scientists to the discovery of new uses of drugs, the Covid pandemic has demonstrated the countless ways in which the UK’s scientific community has had a real impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.

“This hasn’t happened by accident. It is a result of the brilliance of our research community combined with sustained funding support and investment. So it is welcome that the Government has recognised this with its commitment to increase total investment in research and development to 2.4% of UK GDP by 2027.

“However, the UK faces two critical issues at the moment: uncertainty about the ways in which the UK Government will meet its commitment to associate with Horizon Europe and cuts to research funding through Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“The former is destabilising UK research and innovation just at the time when the Government is promoting its ‘scientific superpower’ agenda and risks choking off the pipeline of research that has enabled UK universities to respond so effectively to the pandemic and will ensure its recovery through research and innovation. 

“The second issue is cuts to ODA research funding, which risk damage to the UK and its international standing. The problems addressed by international development research are not isolated overseas: raising levels of health, wellbeing and prosperity in low and middle income countries serves the UK’s interests too. A ‘Global Britain’ will need trading partners, engaged allies and nations that recognise our mutual interests.

“That is why we need urgent clarity from the Government about plans to fund Horizon Europe and a commitment to the long-term financial sustainability of UK research and innovation to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of addressing the greatest problems facing the world today.”



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