The Russell Group founded in 1994, represents 24 universities that are research intensive, and are responsible for world-leading research. They have been long associated with representing the top universities in the UK, and in the world. Recently Brexit has been creating an issue, and is creating an uncertainty between Europe and the UK, and as to whether research funding will be nullified. Russell Group has recommended that science and research should be a priority in the talks that are taking place between the UK and the EU. It is vital that close relationships with members across the EU be maintained, in order to continue the progress that is being made as a result of the funding that is given. Dr Tim Bradshaw, the Acting Director of the Russell Group, stated that he wanted the rights of EU students and staff to be guaranteed after Brexit. This was due to the vast number of EU members that are vital to the universities, and the fact that nearly half of all UK academic articles are a result of international collaboration.
An example of where UK universities are benefiting of the EU funding is the Horizon 2020 research fund. This fund is bringing in more than £2bn into the higher education sector, and estimated to rise even further. If the UK suffers from a hard brexit, there is a strong chance that these types of EU funding could be put on hold, which can seriously impact the progress of research. Oxford University is one of the beneficiaries of EU funding, receiving almost £66m in the years 2014 and 2015, and thrives off this funding. Implications of Brexit could be so concerning, that Oxford is considering opening a campus in France in order to continue receiving EU funding.
In terms of the manifesto pledges, Labour have pledged to ensure that the UK maintains its leading research role it has by allowing Horizon 2020 funding to continue; the party wants to ensure that the UK maintains membership that is the equivalent to European organisations. The Conservative party remains ambiguous, implying that it will collaborate in science and innovation with EU member states. There is little doubt that this area is incredibly important, and the party that offers the most support on this issue will no doubt gain many votes.