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The government must recognise the role of universities in new roadmap to turn UK into a science superpower

Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary-General of the ACU

@The_ACU – New plans to cement the UK as the world’s leading research and science superpower were set out by the government this week. The plans are welcomed by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which represents over 500 universities, but the key role of universities has been worryingly overlooked.

The Research and Development Roadmap aims to pursue ground-breaking research, attract global talent, and cut unnecessary red tape as part of a long-term plan to improve the UK for scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to live, work and innovate. It includes a £300 million investment to upgrade scientific infrastructure.

In response to this initiative, Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary-General of the ACU (Association of Commonwealth Universities), says:

“With the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit transforming the landscape in Higher Education, the ACU welcomes the UK Government’s initiative and investment in a new R&D roadmap. Universities have clearly demonstrated their essential role in delivering R&D in society during the COVID-19 pandemic. From cutting-edge medical science to supporting local communities, universities have shown the many ways they have an impact on society when it is needed most.

“The centrality of universities to this new agenda is clear. We see this as another opportunity to continue to strengthen the relationship between government and universities.

“With delayed international landmark summits on the horizon – a UK-chaired CHOGM and a critical COP26 among them – it is vital that the UK helps shore up R&D momentum, supports mobility of ideas and people, and injects new evidence-based rigour to lead collaborative international action in the Commonwealth and beyond.

“The ACU, host to the UK’s leading international scholarship and fellowship schemes, has long recognised and championed the life-changing opportunities afforded by investing in people and projects centred on research and international collaboration. Scholarships focused on R&D enhance the UK’s influence and diplomatic ability, increase trade and business links, and support development and prosperity.

“The multiple track approach of the road map – to both attract international students to UK universities and to collaborate in international research partnerships – is especially welcome. Focusing on R&D should put universities in a central role and there is a lot to be welcomed in this document. The role of universities must be highlighted. They are at the heart of realising the roadmap’s success.”

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