Northern Ireland

Brexit: £17m of Ulster University funding at risk

Ulster University
Image caption The document warns about the impact of a 'harder' border on staff working at UU's Londonderry campus

Ulster University risks losing some 20m euros (£17.5m) in European Union funding and tuition fees as a result of the Brexit vote, warns a report.

The stark prediction is included in a briefing document prepared by the university and obtained by the BBC.

The document also warns of the impact of a "harder" border on staff working at the university's Londonderry campus.

"Should border checkpoints be re-established, this would have an adverse impact on staff mobility," it said.

Two-thirds of UU's staff from the Republic of Ireland work at the Magee campus in Derry.

"There is also some concern that the vote to leave the EU could result in prospective EU students withdrawing their applications," the document continued.

UU had 1,332 EU students in 2015/16 - including 1,206 from the Republic of Ireland - who paid a total of £3.3m in tuition fees.

UU are calling for the government to provide reassurances about the immigration status of EU students and clarification on their tuition fees and access to student loans.

Research funding at risk?

EU students currently pay £3,925 per annum in tuition fees - the same as Northern Irish students.

EU nationals studying now will continue to receive current loans and grants until they finish their course.

However, the document said: "We are currently awaiting confirmation on ongoing arrangements for EU students in Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU."

It also estimated that UU's future share of EU research funding would be worth 17m euros every year.

For instance, the university has received almost 10m euros since 2014 from Horizon 2020, an EU research fund.

The document said that further funding of 10.5m euros for 2016/17 from that programme is currently in negotiation.

Horizon 2020 is worth 80bn euros and awards funding for research and innovation.

It is open to UK institutions while the country remains a member of the EU.

The document called for clarification "as to whether UK universities can participate in EU research collaboration and funding programmes after the UK formally leaves the European Union".

"In a context where we planned to double our external EU research grant income this is of grave concern to the university", it said.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond previously said EU-funded projects signed before the Autumn Statement later this year would be guaranteed by the Treasury after the UK leaves the EU.

However, the UU document warned: "There is already substantial anecdotal evidence that UK institutions (including Ulster University) are being asked to leave consortia applying for EU funding."