The British Academy’s Foreign Secretary comments on the research funding landscape, including the impact of budget cuts to ODA funded research

18 Mar 2021

The decision to reduce the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) has had a significant impact on research funding across the sector.

The British Academy provides funding from ODA via the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund to academics in the UK and overseas to conduct research into a range of pressing societal and cultural issues. This funding will now be reduced by over 70%. The Academy will not be reducing or terminating any existing awards but there will be no new awards in 21/22.

Writing in the Academy’s international e-newsletter last week, which goes to grant recipients as well as a range of partners and interested individuals across the world, Professor Simon Goldhill FBA said:

“The scale of the reductions to ODA research... will have a devastating impact on the immensely valuable research that funds such as GCRF have supported in recent years. It will affect the improvement that such funding has spearheaded in our research culture and equity, as well as posing very real challenges to researchers’ livelihoods and to the UK’s international reputation.

“The Academy will continue to press hard and at the highest levels for ODA research funding to be reinstated to ensure that the exceptional potential it has to deliver change, is realised."

Professor Goldhill also highlighted that the Academy had been making the case for the cost of associating to Horizon Europe to be met from additional funding, rather than being 'folded' into the existing R&D budget. He added:

“This uncertainty [about the cost of Horizon] and the cuts to ODA research are not coherent with the ambitions the government announced yesterday in the Integrated Review for the UK to be a science superpower. The mismatch between reality and rhetoric is clear to see and it will severely damage our international partnerships and research standing.”

Along with the other national academies, the British Academy expressed concerns about the proposed cuts in a letter to the Foreign Secretary in December, which included a range of case studies demonstrating the impact of ODA funded research.

The case for providing separate funding for Horizon Europe was made in a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget from the four national academies (The British Academy, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences).

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