Prof Denis Noble’s letter published in the Telegraph about Boris Johnson’s interview with VOX, and concerns over post-Brexit funding and the place of UK science in the world.
(scroll down to view letter)

Brexit must not leave our universities cut off

SIR – I wish to congratulate Boris Johnson on his appointment as Foreign Secretary, and to send him an appeal.

In an interview I did with him three years ago in the university’s Voices from Oxford project, he strongly emphasised that, in politics, it is important to acknowledge and understand each side of a case.

I therefore invite him to acknowledge the deep concerns many people in UK universities now have. Many of us depend on our international networks of collaboration; and many, like myself, have benefited from very substantial EU initiatives and funding.

We have been so successful in bidding for funding that in this area the UK is a net gainer, to the tune of billions of pounds in recent years.

But even more important than the funding is our leading position in world science that depends on our work and its funding being attractive to other leading scientists.

I therefore appeal to Mr Johnson and his colleagues in the Government to find ways by which our leading position can be maintained.

I understand that negotiations with the EU will take some years. Our problem is much more immediate. The confidence of our international collaborators will be eroded very soon if there are no firm assurances on protecting one of the most successful of British enterprises: the higher education sector and academic research. In this field we really do “punch above our weight”.

Reassurances from Mr Johnson as Foreign Secretary and from the Government as a whole would be greatly valued.

Professor Denis Noble
President, International Union of Physiological Sciences
Balliol College, Oxford

Watch the interview here: