Wales’ success in research and innovation must not be damaged by Brexit, Education Minister Kirsty Williams has warned today.
Highlighting the critical role research plays in driving economic national productivity, the Welsh Government has launched a new policy paper that points out the important role that EU Structural funds have played over the past 18 years in helping Wales to grow the volume, quality and international impact of its research base.
While small in scale, the Welsh research base is currently the most efficient in the UK, outperforming other UK countries and many similar sized countries in terms of the impact of its published research.
Given that a significant amount of the funding for research and innovation in Wales comes from EU structural funds, the Welsh Government is demanding the UK Government replaces this shortfall after Brexit.
With nearly 80% of Wales’ total EU funding for research and innovation coming from structural funds, Wales will be more affected than many other parts of the UK.
In addition, the Welsh Government’s policy document highlights the need for:
- Full access and participation to a range of EU research programmes after Brexit, including Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ programmes.
- Ongoing access to European Investment Bank Loan finance.
- A research-friendly migration system that enables a free flow of researchers, with guarantees for EU nationals working in our universities.
- Continued access for EU students to Welsh universities.
- Bringing together the UK Government and devolved governments to improve the coordination and cooperation in research and innovation.
Kirsty Williams said:
“Wales punches above its weight in research and this cannot be put at risk because of Brexit. Much of our research is recognised as world-class and is carried out in collaboration with partners from across the globe. Continuing to invest in research and innovation is crucial for the Welsh economy and creating jobs.
“EU Structural Investment Funds have played a vital role in growing the capacity of Wales’ research base, working together with universities and business and contributing to the Welsh economy. Brexit must not undermine this achievement, but at the moment we have little confidence the UK Government will replace this vital support at the previous levels of funding.”
The Minister added:
“If the UK is serious about ‘rebalancing’ the UK economy and growing research excellence to secure greater UK regional growth, then this will require the UK Government to respect devolution and replace EU Structural Funds with funding provided directly to the Welsh Government.”