Accessibility statement

York remains committed to research in Global South following funding cuts

Posted on 22 April 2021

University of York Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery has stated his commitment to continue to support research in the Global South following the Government’s decision to cut funding to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery has written to MPs and international partners expressing the University’s disappointment at the Government’s decision.

In the letter to MPs the Vice-Chancellor argues that the cuts will impede the UK’s progress towards achieving its ambition as a ‘Global Britain’ and damage future research collaborations in partner countries.

In a letter to international partners the Vice-Chancellor has reiterated the importance of the collaborations and the University commitment to lobbying the government for support and continuing to progress current research projects.

Research funded through the ODA - York has approximately 68 current projects worth more than £21.8 million - is designed to support the UK Aid Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals, contributing directly to social welfare and economic development in some of the poorest countries in the world.

He said: “We are working to improve health systems in Malawi, Ghana, and Uganda; on new vaccines for leishmaniasis in Brazil and Sudan; reducing industrial waste in India; developing sensors for clean water in Vanuatu; and we are helping women by preventing gendered inequalities in South Africa.

“This is just a small selection of a large number of important projects under way here at York, but the recent decision by the government to cut funding to this programme of work now means that we face a huge loss in discovery and innovation, which would have had such a positive impact on communities around the world.”

The November Spending Review announced a reduction in ODA from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income. This, together with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, means that the ODA will be reduced by almost one-third.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “One of the greatest losses is not just resources, but the relationships that the ODA has helped us build over the years. These programmes of work were about creating equal partners across the Global South; it wasn’t about what we could do here in the UK to help, but what we could learn from each other by truly combining expertise across different cultures.

“We are now appealing to MPs to mount a campaign to reverse this decision and urge government to return to stable financial support for ODA as soon as possible so that we can continue this important work and meet the UN’s targets for international aid.”

Some ODA funds are channelled directly through universities and others are distributed through other delivery partners such as Newton, NIHR, BA, the Royal Society, and UKRI which provide funds through the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF), all of which the University of York has been successful in. In March this year, however, it was made clear that the funding cuts to the ODA will impact current projects under way.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “The University’s commitment to the public good means we have decided to support affected projects in a reduced form from University resources, to enable some projects to complete.

“We will continue to work with our partners to seek alternative sources of funding where necessary and retain these hugely important and rewarding relationships.”