News / Policy

Brexit would have negative impact on the geosciences, say respondents to GSL survey

EU BlogNearly two thirds of respondents to our recent survey of geoscientists believe a UK exit from the EU would have a negative impact on their work.

1,101 geoscientists responded to our survey, representing a broad spread of sectors – more than 250 responses were received from each of Research and Education, Industry, Consultancy/Services and Other (non-profit, government, unemployed/retired.)

The short survey covered the following questions:

  1. Select the employment sector which best describes your area of work
  2. What impact will leaving the European Union have on your employment sector?
  3. What will be the impact of leaving the EU on the following areas of geoscience in the UK
    • Geoscience research and research funding
    • Regulatory geoscience and the strength of national capability in geoscience
    • Geoscience industry and the commercial use of geoscience including ease of access to geoscience knowledge and support for innovation
  4. Additional comments

Of the 863 people that answered question 2 62.5% of the respondents answered that leaving the EU would have a slightly negative or very negative impact on their sector of work.

EU Question 2

When asked about how a Leave vote would affect different sectors of geoscience there was clear messaging on the potential impacts.

EU question 6aOn the subject of Geoscience research and research funding, 67.2% of respondents said that a Leave vote would have a slightly negative or very negative affect. 9% said it would have a netural affect while 6.2% said it would have either a slightly positive or very postive affect.

When asked how a ‘Leave’ vote would affect regulatory geoscience and the strength of
national capability, 54%
said a Leave vote would have a slightly negtive or very negative impact. 17.5% said it would have a neutral affect and 11.46% said it would have a slightly positive or very positive affect on regulatory geoscience.

EU question 6bAnd on the impact of a Leave vote on geoscience industry and commercial use of geoscience (incuding ease of access to geoscience knowledge and support for innovation), 58.6% of respondents said there would be a very or slightly negative impact, with 19.6% saying it would be neutral and 8.9% saying it would have a slightly positive or very positive affect.

EU ref question 6cFrequent concerns raised in comments were threats to collaborative research networks across the EU, freedom of travel and employment of EU based geoscientists. A number also expressed unease about the possible impact on UK environmental legislation.

‘It’s clear from the results of the survey that there is uncertainty in the geoscience community about the impact of a UK exit from the EU’ says Geological Society Executive Secretary Sarah Fray. ‘Whilst some respondents suggest leaving will have little effect on their work either way, many are concerned about the potential impact on research funding and employment.

‘Geoscience is by nature an international subject – rocks do not obey national borders. It’s no surprise, then, that many of those working in the sector are concerned about the potential consequences of leaving the EU.’

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