Press release

IDS response to UKRI budget cuts for international research

Published on 11 March 2021

In response to recent updates on the extent of the cuts to ODA-funded budgets for international research, which will leave UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) facing a £120 shortfall,

Professor Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies, said:

“At a time when recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is only possible because of science and research, and in a year when the UK is hosting the G7 and COP 26 on climate change, it is damning that our government’s response is to cut the international research budget. This will have a dramatic impact on the availability of high quality, interdisciplinary research essential to improving the lives of people around the world and will damage the UK’s credibility as a world-leader in science.

“Successful responses to major global challenges are only possible through international collaboration. Yet, these budget reductions mean we will lose international science and research partnerships that have taken years to establish and will take years to re-build.

“Projects now at risk include those understanding how we can better mitigate against zoonotic diseases like Covid-19; those developing and improving the health of millions of the poorest people living in unsafe and overcrowded housing, those tackling gender and other forms of inequality and injustice, and many more. The future of the entire Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), widely recognised as unique in bringing researchers from the UK and low and middle income countries together in a new generation of problem-oriented, transformative science, is now under threat.

“UKRI funding for international research is critical to help us all navigate the pressing issues the world is currently grappling with, including poverty and inequalities, pandemics and the impacts of climate change. Now more than ever, we should be investing in the UK’s world-renowned development research and evidence to enable better, more effective decision-making, that is informed by real-world issues, experiences, contexts and complexities.”


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