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Academies calculate how much Brexit will cost U.K. researchers

Some academic fields in the United Kingdom will have major funding holes to fill once the country leaves the European Union, according to new research commissioned by four U.K. academies. The Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society commissioned the Technopolis Group, an independent policy research organization, to find out in detail just how reliant U.K. science is on European funding. The €1.1 billion per year that U.K. research now gets from Europe is, the report found, spread across all academic disciplines it analyzed but some fields will have a tougher time than others finding alternative sources.

According to the study, U.K. archaeology gets the largest proportion of its funding from Europe (38%), followed by classics (33%) and information technology (IT) (30%). Of the top 15 fields by that measure, only two are natural or physical sciences. But in terms of absolute amounts of money, the rankings are very different: Clinical medicine won the most EU funding in 2014–15 (£120 million), followed by biosciences (£91 million), physics (£55 million), chemistry (£55 million), and IT (£46 million).

Though the government has pledged to continue supporting U.K. researchers bidding for European funds during Brexit negotiations, no guarantees have been made that similar amounts of funding will be supplied by the U.K. treasury after the divorce is finalized.