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Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 24-27
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6461.24

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Summary

Three years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union—and despite a looming deadline this month—the political situation is far from resolved. But for some researchers, Brexit has already taken a toll on their lives and their science. Last year, U.K. researchers were involved in considerably fewer EU research projects than in the year before the vote to leave. They are also leading fewer of these EU collaborations. Invitations merely to participate in EU consortia are becoming scarcer, researchers say. Some U.K. scientists are not bothering to apply for EU grants anymore, given the uncertainty about the future. Others have left the country. Lab leaders at even the most prestigious institutions describe unprecedented difficulty in attracting postdocs from the rest of Europe. From 2015 to 2019, the proportion of early-career researchers with prestigious EU fellowships choosing U.K. universities has fallen substantially. U.K. politicians are significantly boosting science budgets in a bid to strengthen the country's industrial prowess after Brexit, and universities continue to successful recruit for permanent positions. No one knows how it will all play out—and whether the initial bruises to U.K. science will turn into a deeper wound. Here, Science presents the stories of five researchers whose lives have already been altered in one way or another by Brexit.

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