UK HE sector gives position on the future of European research

The UK higher education sector has today (Thursday) released its position on the future of European research.

Universities UK President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter Professor Steve Smith stressed the importance of research in a European context.

"The UK is a major research player in Europe and is keen to engage constructively with counterparts in Europe to help shape the future agenda," Professor Smith said.

"The UK's position concentrates on key issues identified by the UK HE sector as crucial for the future development of EU research activity, including research excellence and capacity, sustainability of European research funding, and researcher mobility.

"Higher education institutions are important in building research partnerships and delivering research activity in Europe. They are an essential partner in ensuring the future development of the European Research Area (ERA) and advancing Europe towards a Knowledge Society. We are glad the European Commission recognises this," Professor Smith said.

"The UK HE sector also supports the proposal from the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) to develop a third stream of ERC funding for the best doctoral students to help build excellence.

"The UK recognises that the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the European Research Council and Joint Programming all have separate and important research agendas. Indeed, the UK is looking to the new Commission to ensure that the work of these different instruments is developed as a cross cutting strategic approach to research and innovation across the whole Commission, feeding into overarching European objectives from 2014," he said.

The position has been developed at a time of major change in European research policy. The European Commission is currently reviewing its research activity and priorities for research funding, with a view to developing a coherent European strategy.

The position paper (see attached) has been translated into four other European languages, French, German, Polish and Spanish and is available on the Europe Unit website at (Thursday). 


  • The position paper has been developed jointly by the UK HE Europe Unit and Universities UK and involved wide consultation across the UK HE sector, including the higher education funding councils, the research councils, UKRO, and higher education institutions.
  • The UK HE Europe Unit supports the UK higher education sector's engagement in the European Union and the Bologna Process. It is jointly funded by Universities UK, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, GuildHE, and the Quality Assurance Agency.
  • Universities UK is the major representative body and membership organisation for the higher education sector. Its members are the executive heads of UK universities. Together with Higher Education Wales and Universities Scotland UUK works to advance the interests of universities and to spread good practice throughout the higher education sector.
  • The position has been translated into German, French, Spanish and Polish and has been distributed (Thursday) to rectors conferences across Europe and the European Commission.

For more information contact:

Callista Punch
Manager/Policy Advisor
UK HE Europe Unit and International Unit

Universities UK

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