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Support for vital work

University research jobs protected by funding deal

Edinburgh University Medical School

Universities face difficult financial decisions (pic: Terry Murden)

Universities will benefit from £280 million to protect thousands of jobs and support research into the coronavirus and other important work in areas such as plastic waste.

The funding will also help to compensate for an expected slump in the number of international students who normally provide a huge chunk of university income.

From this Autumn, universities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access long term, low interest loans and grants covering up to 80% of their income losses caused by any actual decline in overseas students.

Universities are expected to make cutbacks of their own, while some may also be losing funding from charities and businesses, which goes towards vital medical research.

The package will be made available to fund research and high priority projects, such as medical research, said the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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About £200m will be available immediately to support researchers’ salaries and other costs such as laboratory equipment and fieldwork. This will allow universities to retain research talent and protect innovative, ground-breaking projects across the country.

UK Research & Innovation will also redistribute up to a further £80m of existing funding to support R&D.

The two support schemes will ensure universities facing difficult financial decisions, in line with the rest of the economy, can offer job security to up-and-coming researchers and are able to progress their cutting-edge work, such as research into the effects of coronavirus, antibiotics resistance, and new tech solutions to tackle plastic waste and climate change.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The brilliance of our talented researchers and scientists has been absolutely critical not only to our medical response to coronavirus but also as we begin to emerge from this pandemic and support the UK’s economic recovery.

“The support we are putting in place will give our world-leading universities a lifeline by protecting jobs to ensure our best minds can continue discovering new innovations that will benefit us all for generations to come.”

Some of the ground-breaking projects benefiting from today’s investment will include:

  • Research into antibiotics resistance, ensuring life-saving drugs and treatments remain effective;
  • The development of innovative new technologies to tackle climate change, including advanced computing and quantum technology;
  • Solutions tackling the waste caused by the manufacture and use of plastics around the world; and
  • Work to gain a greater understanding of the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on our wider society, such as the impact of lockdown on people’s mental health.

Research and development (R&D) investment is critical to the UK economy, said the department. Every £1 spent delivers £7 in economic and social benefits from helping to attract investment, boosting productivity and creating new jobs.

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway commented: “Coronavirus has shown us all the importance of the UK’s world-class R&D ecosystem.”

Innovation Fund

Innovative ideas and projects led by companies recovering from the impact of COVID-19 are being supported by a £200m Sustainable Innovation Fund.

It will be open to companies who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

UK Government minister for Scotland, David Duguid, said: “The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on the way we live and work but we have seen many businesses develop innovative new ways of working.

“This new fund will continue to help our economy as we recover from this pandemic.

“I encourage businesses in Scotland to come forward with their creative ideas.”



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