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Education Secretary questioned on future UK-EU relationship on research and education

3 December 2020

The EU Services Committee writes to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, MP about the future UK-EU relationship on research and education.


Uncertainty about the UK’s future participation in the EU’s Horizon and Erasmus programmes is causing UK researchers to miss out on research funding and students are missing opportunities for academic exchanges.

This is the main conclusion of a short inquiry carried out by the House of Lords EU Services Sub-Committee into the future UK-EU relationship on research and education.

The findings and conclusions of this inquiry are detailed in the letter from the Committee to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP.


Other findings and conclusions set out in the Committee’s letter include:

  • Under current EU proposals, the UK could end up as a significant net contributor to European research funding with little say over how it is administered. Any investment in research funding must be good value for the UK, and the Government should weigh the benefits of association against the cost implications.
  • If the UK does not participate in Horizon Europe, the alternative domestic research funding framework must be independently administered and should focus on building global collaboration, supporting SMEs and providing funding across the UK.
  • The UK is currently seeking ‘partial’ association to Erasmus. The Committee urges the Government to consider the advantages of the Erasmus scheme which provides a common framework for placements that fit well within existing higher education structures and makes provision for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • If the Government does not associate with Erasmus, a domestic alternative should be in place by the end of the transition period that supports inward and outward student mobility.
  • The absence of a positive data adequacy decision would have a significant and negative impact on the UK’s research and education sector.

Chair's comments

Baroness Donaghy, Chair of the EU Services Sub-Committee, said:

“The UK’s world-leading research and education sector is a major asset to the UK economy. It also brings a range of benefits beyond its financial contribution.

“The Government must provide clarity about whether the UK is going to participate in the EU’s Horizon and Erasmus programmes. If it’s not, then it must detail what the alternatives are going to be. The lack of certainty on post-Brexit arrangements is providing a real challenge to an already-stretched sector.”

This short inquiry has built on the former EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee’s February 2019 report, Brexit: the Erasmus and Horizon programmes.

Further information