The call came in a joint statement ahead of the December meeting of the EU Council from the Russell Group, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.
Their intervention follows the announcement that Brexit negotiating teams have agreed sufficient progress has been made to allow for discussions to begin over the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
Highlighting the importance of research collaboration in tackling major challenges like disease and climate change, the three groups argued that the EU and UK must be ambitious and work towards a settlement on research that will support joint-working after Brexit.
In a joint statement they said: “The success of Europe’s universities is underpinned by a long history of fruitful collaborations between academics and institutions across the whole continent. Cross-border working has facilitated the sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise to support high-quality teaching and pioneering research to the benefit of students, scientists and all European citizens.
“By bringing together the best minds to work on common challenges, our universities have helped develop treatments for chronic diseases, new strategies to manage the risk posed by natural disasters, clean energy technologies and smart transport solutions, amongst many others.
“Research-intensive universities in the Russell Group, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities encourage both the UK and the EU to be ambitious for a future which will allow universities on both sides of the Channel to continue to cooperate as closely as possible on research and innovation after Brexit.
“Ensuring the exchange of ideas, mobility of people and sharing of facilities and valuable research data can continue in an as easy and frictionless way as possible will be critical to the success of European and UK science. We urge both sides to seize the opportunity to secure a positive, win-win outcome for all as soon as possible.
By bringing together the best minds to work on common challenges, our universities have helped develop treatments for chronic diseases, new strategies to manage the risk posed by natural disasters, clean energy technologies and smart transport solutions, amongst many others
“Our leading universities are eager and well-placed to support governments in the UK and across Europe to help shape a future framework for research and innovation to boost the prosperity of all countries concerned.”
Chief Executive of the Russell Group Dr Tim Bradshaw said: “We are yet to speak to anyone in London or Brussels who does not recognise the value of the research links that have been built up across Europe over the last forty years. This work needs to continue. There is a real opportunity to secure a positive Brexit outcome on research that is good for both sides.”
Professor Jan Palmowski, Secretary-General of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, added: “Collaboration among Europe’s researchers, benefiting from common access to funding and short distances, is a unique advantage that has helped European academic communities compete with the best universities worldwide.
‘We need to continue this free exchange of ideas to support the creation of new jobs, further the depths of our cultural knowledge, and develop social innovation.”