Nov 10, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

The academic community has long feared the impact of Brexit on UK research and exchange. Now comes news that the government is working to secure an “ambitious agreement” with the EU, which will allow British universities to continue collaborating with EU entities. Here’s a closer look at what universities minister Jo Johnson has to say of the initiative, as recently reported by The Guardian.

Safeguarding Innovation

At last month’s Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Johnson declared, “We want to remain a player in European science, research and innovation programs. And we will continue to attract the best talent from across the world, including the EU.” To that end, the government has been “absolutely consistent” in endeavoring to protect its position with the EU on matters of science and innovation -- with international collaboration as a priority.

Johnson also expressed the UK’s ongoing commitment to recruiting the best and brightest EU talent. “We’re continuing to provide significant certainty to EU students that they are welcome and valued here, we’ve made clear they’re able to access the higher education funding system,” he said.

This reassurance follows less heartening developments, including a recent note by the European Commission on its research and innovation portal warning that British researchers would lose access to their Horizon 2020 program funds if the UK withdraws from the EU without an agreement with Brussels.

A New Assessment Framework

Johnson also unveiled plans for a new university “knowledge exchange” assessment framework aimed at determining whether universities are effectively commercializing their research.

David Sweeney, Chair of Research England, which is charged with developing the new framework, told The Guardian, “Public understanding about university success in knowledge exchange is important, but external engagement with universities is often badged under more specific names. We will work with the sector and partners to develop ways of describing that success in accessible ways.”

Read more about PhDs in the UK.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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