Imperial College London has signed a flagship partnership with the Technical University of Munich, according to the BBC.
UK universities are worried about the impact Brexit might have on their ability to receive research funding from the EU. In fact, the top four EU research funding recipients are in the UK: Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, and Imperial College London. UK universities are also worried about the potential barriers that Brexit may place on academic cooperation and the exchange of research developments with the EU. The same four universities previously mentioned also have the highest concentrations of EU staff.
#BrexitScienceSummit All my life, Oxford, Cambridge & Imperial College, London have been among the very best universities worldwide. Brexit will probably destroy this. Undermining the advance of knowledge is unbelievably stupid & ignorant. #FBPE #WATON
— Aunty Janet #FBPE (@scarlettpeach) February 22, 2018
Many universities are attempting to find ways of maintaining their eligibility of receiving EU research funding and continue to stay connected intellectually with EU institutions post-Brexit.
One response has been to form partnerships with EU universities. Earlier in 2018, Imperial College London reached a deal with France’s National Centre for Scientific Research to co-fund a mathematics lab in London, enabling mathematicians working there to be eligible for EU funding.
Imperial and TUS have a history of partnerships, having previously collaborated on twenty-one research projects, all of which received funding from the EU. However, Imperial’s recent partnership with TUS, which was signed on October 4, is unlike other partnerships before it.
Imperial and TUS reached a landmark agreement in which staff will be jointly appointed by both universities. The academics in these unique posts will have a kind of ‘academic dual citizenship’, and thus enable Imperial to continue to access EU funding and research.
Yesterday I learned from Imperial college researcher that 40% of their research funding is from EU This is spent on research into Parkinson’s, MS etc This won’t be replaced by Gov so how will that help future sufferers? All these serious downsides to Brexit are preventable
— rosetta delisle #FBPE #Deeply Anti-Democratic (@elisled) October 20, 2018
At the signing, Professor Wolfgang Herrmann, President of TUM, commented on the significance of the partnership: “by pooling our strengths, we will advance research and innovation to the great challenges of humanity at an internationally outstanding level. The new exchange opportunities will also be a pleasure for our students. At the same time, we want to send a strong signal against the dangers of new barriers in the European scientific area. Science is international in itself, and only when it brings together the best minds can it best serve society. We should do everything we can to preserve the historic achievement of unlimited European cooperation.”
The UK government thus far has promised to guarantee any funding promised to UK universities in the current EU funding cycle, which ends in 2020. After that, the UK government has suggested paying for an associate status within the EU. However, the conditions of such an arrangement have yet to be negotiated. The fact that UK universities have largely been beneficiaries from the funding will surely be a cause for some reluctance on the part of EU diplomats to simply agree to an ordinary deal.