DSA statement on reduction to UKRI’s ODA- funded budgets
The Development Studies Association strongly condemns the significant reduction to UKRI’s Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded budgets for international research. The cuts will be unconscionably damaging to the UK’s research base and directly contradict government’s commitment to ‘science, research and technology’ as one of the key global challenges that the UK is well-placed to address. In the year that UK hosts the upcoming G7 Summit and COP26, it will leave the UK out of step with global efforts to tackle grand challenges through research led initiatives.
ODA-funded research has played a critical role in enabling the UK to become a world leader in tackling global challenges, including through The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Newton Fund. Operating through interdisciplinary partnerships with research collaborators throughout the Global South, UK development research has been a major success story, ensuring evidence-based responses to problems such as Covid-19, global health, conflict, poverty and inequalities, urban transformations, gender equity, inclusive growth and youth employment, and climate and environmental justice.
The proposed cuts will leave a £120 million hole in ODA-funded research for 2021-22. There is no systematic, logical or fair way that cuts of this magnitude and pace can be implemented, with arbitrary decisions inevitable. UK research institutions will not be able to fulfil agreements with overseas partners who are relying on receiving the full value of agreed allocations, many of which have already been written into contracts. Relationships of trust built up over many years between UK researchers and institutions in the Global South will be damaged and the capacity of UK universities to recruit global talent severely diminished. The decision sends a message that the UK government only values ‘equitable partnerships’ in the good times. The reputational damage to the UK Government and to UK researchers and research institutions will be considerable. Moreover, these cuts undermine the broader agreement between government and the university sector, which has pivoted towards the global challenges agenda and dedicated significant resources to support development research.
The DSA urges The Government to reconsider these cuts to research funding and renew its commitment to supporting the UK’s world-leading contributions to achieving a safer, more equitable and prosperous world.
On behalf of the DSA and Heads of Development Studies centres across the UK.