UK universities doing ‘disproportionately well’ from EU grants

European Union university research funding supports more than 19,000 jobs at British educational institutions or in industries benefiting from research activities, according to a report published on Friday.

Graduates from Portsmouth university

The study by the higher education campaign group Universities UK represents the latest attempt by the sector to convince voters of the importance of the EU to British research ahead of the June 23 referendum on membership of the bloc.

Universities UK said that EU research grants for British universities amounted to £838 million in 2014-2015, enabling the creation of 8,864 research jobs and facilitating a further 10,190 full-time equivalent openings in industries outside the education sector.

The report said that, within higher education in England and Scotland, the EU-funded research generated an economic output of £836 million and contributed nearly £577 million to the GDP. In industries benefiting from research, £1.02 billion of economic output was generated, with GDP being boosted by almost £503 million.

“EU research funding helps our universities to thrive, enabling UK researchers to collaborate with the best minds from across the EU in order to tackle global problems, from cancer to climate change,” said Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of the University of Kent.

“What is clear from this new analysis is that this EU funding also benefits the UK economy, boosting growth and creating jobs both directly and indirectly in a range of sectors in all corners of the UK.”

According to the report, UK universities did “disproportionately well” in attracting EU funding. Dame Julia said, “EU support goes far beyond money. It also provides irreplaceable networks and frameworks which enable our researchers to have a genuine impact on society by pursuing breakthroughs, discoveries and inventions which improve our lives.”