Academy and Campaign welcome Brexit report and additional visas

16 November 2017

The Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) and its Campaign for Social Science (CfSS) welcome the British Academy’s report, ‘Brexit Means?’,  which sets out the BA’s priorities for the humanities and social sciences in the current Brexit negotiations.

The impact of Brexit on higher education in all disciplines has been raised by many. This includes implications for staffing and students to ensure that UK universities retain their excellence and international standing, which is essential for the wider research strengths of the UK.  Our own earlier analyses of the implications for social science staff and students, and of the disproportionate success of the social sciences in gaining EU funding raised many of the issues now covered in more detail in the British Academy’s report.

The impressive British Academy report provides far more detailed subject-level data on EU funding and the percentages of EU staff and students, using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) that was not previously publicly available.  It shows just how important EU staff, students and research funding are to many areas of social science, and therefore to institutions of higher education, many of whom are drivers of local economic growth.  The regional evidence in the report reveals the importance of these issues across the whole of the United Kingdom. We note particularly the evidence in this report about the implications for the social sciences and the humanities in Northern Ireland, and the specific challenges that community will necessarily face in any negotiated settlement with the EU.

This report supports our view that in the negotiation about Brexit, the issues of visas for international (including EU-origin) staff and students, and participation in EU research collaborations and funding, will require detailed attention.  We welcome the recent government announcement of an additional 1,000 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas, including for the social sciences and humanities via the British Academy as an endorsing organisation as a start.  Appropriate visa policies and processes for the wider research community – including international staff at UK universities and in private sector research firms – will also be needed to enable straightforward and flexible recruitment across all disciplines, from STEM to the Social Sciences and Humanities, and to provide greater certainty for those already working in the UK.

We hope that the British Academy report, and future reports looking at the social sciences, will contribute to a wider understanding of these issues, going beyond the ‘STEM’ subjects and addressing the breadth of the UK’s research strengths and the importance of the well-being of higher education to the post-Brexit future of the UK.