The imminent consequences of Brexit are said to pose a potential threat to the relationship between British and European academics.
However, Imperial College London are seeking to alleviate this pending issue, as they have developed a ‘close partnership’ with a research agency in France. In light of this, British academics hope to continue to retain access to European research funding.
A joint maths laboratory in London has collaborated with a research body in France, known as the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Despite the potential consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the collaboration will provide Imperial’s researchers with the same funding status as those in France. A spokesman from Imperial College claimed, ‘all members of the UMI, whatever their nationality, will have equal access to funding, resources and most importantly, opportunities for collaboration’.’Members’ of the UMI (Unite Mixte Internationale) involve others from UK institutions.
This new centre in London is looked upon with optimism, as it is believed to hold the same status as a laboratory in France. This is the first time a research unit in the UK has been co-funded by the French government, thus marking a big step in research connections and networks. Although the ‘Anglo-French maths centre’ was planned before the Brexit referendum, it will provide a ‘model of co-operation and a shared approach to funding’ after the results of the referendum take their toll.
This relationship between France and Britain is something UMI director Richard Caster feels particularly strong about, as the project demonstrates a ‘commitment to strengthening our ties with Europe by improving mobility and giving new opportunities for researchers to exchange ideas’. Similarly, France’s ambassador claims it will ‘provide a window to reach out to the UK mathematical community at large’.
The laboratory primarily aims to advance research and progression in the mathematical field, exploring areas such as ‘number theory, mathematical analysis, biomathematics and financial mathematics’. French and British connections are prevalent in the mere number of French students attending Imperial College London, with 700 attending its south Kensington base.
In light of the EU referendum result, President Professor Alice Last has promised to ‘vigorously defend our international values’. Last also comments how ‘political changes’ will not restrict the college’s research work, telling staff and students that ‘Imperial is and will remain a European university’.
Despite the work colleges are pursuing in the hope of maintaining European connections, there have been numerous warnings from UK universities concerning the international projects they run through European frameworks. This solely stems from the fact that UK universities have been one of the biggest networks to benefit from EU research funding. No matter what academic field, concerns lie on the horizon of 2020, when Brexit regulations will come into place.