Valencian Claudia Roman became the new president of Montana on 12 August Society of Spanish Scientists in the United Kingdom (CERU, or SRUK, for short in English), A unit with over 800 members that brings together Spanish researchers who are developing their professional careers at universities and companies in the United Kingdom. The 32-year-old researcher is one of CERU’s youngest ever presidents, and takes his position at a time of great difficulty for the scientific community in the United Kingdom, which has led to Brexit and the effects of the pandemic.
What are the main challenges facing CERU after Brexit?
Last year, after the United Kingdom left the European Union, 41% of our members expressed a desire to leave the country in a survey, of this percentage, Half wishes to return to Spain, This result aligns perfectly loss of attraction of the United Kingdom between the Spaniards and other Europeans. It is true that after the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit), there have been major changes in the conditions of European citizens in the country, as well as in relations between the EU and the United Kingdom, which we at CERU try to do . Reduce.
One of the biggest problems we’ve found is United Kingdom’s non-participation in European R&D&I programs (For example, Horizon Europe). From CERU, along with other associations of European researchers in the United Kingdom, we have contacted the British, European and Spanish authorities expressing the need to encourage country participation in these programmes. there is one more drawback The complexity of the new visa system, This makes it extremely difficult to attract research staff as well as students. That’s why CERU has organized informational sessions and provided ad-hoc information on different types of visas. Similarly, we have contributed to the promotion of mobility between Spain and the United Kingdom through our on the move bidirectional program, Which allows researchers in the United Kingdom to do a short stay in Spain, as well as allow Spanish researchers to stay in the United Kingdom.
The pandemic has affected you too, how is the return to normalcy?
Despite the easing of measures, at CERU we still experience negative impacts. mostly because this society is made volunteers and friends, Those who take many initiatives of a scientific nature, but who share both professional and social experiences. Is loss of human contact– as well as the varying personal situations that forced many of us to return to Spain- due to a Huge loss of members and volunteers, That is the most important challenge for CERU right now. Recruitment of volunteers and partners So that we can continue with all the work and initiatives we take.
As a scientist who has developed part of his career in the United Kingdom, what do you think about the state of science in Spain and the problem of “brain drain”?
Spain is one a country with a very high overall unemployment rate, that particularly affects youth who complete their studies and look for their first job in the world of labor. This, along with a lack of funding in research, development and innovation (R+D+I) programs, leads to the production of the well-known phenomenon in pre- and postdoctoral researchers’ precarious circumstances. “brain drain”,
I myself, after a degree in pharmacy and a master’s degree in Biotechnology of Assisted Human Reproduction, attest to the difficulties that exist in Spain to find a doctoral place in our country, and even more so if you want to do a doctorate with scholarship . that’s why I decided to go to the UK and start doctoral research at a leading university in my field, but above all, A university and in a country that will allow me to pay for my studies and a salary to live in. Other fellow students chose to stay in Spain and in many cases completed their doctorate studies without pay.
Postdoctoral researchers and other highly qualified positions also lead to exodus. Lack of stability and competitive pay or compared to those offered by other countries. It is a shame that after the excellent training that we have received in Spain, there is no opportunity to continue your research and somehow give back to your country the investment you made during your studies.
Could the new law on science and technology change things?
I trust it. This new law and other initiatives and strategies such as the 2022 Scientific and Innovative Talent and Attraction Scheme or the 2019 Return Plan both offer great hope in this regard. The Network of Association of Researchers and Scientists Abroad (RAICEX), of which CERU is a member, has recently prepared The ATRAE report, which serves as the basis for some of the measures included in the Government Talent Attraction Scheme, Similarly, at RAICEX we value positive desire to change The previous plans and the new Law of Science and Technology is reflected in 2022, but we hope that these are the first steps for the implementation of the amendment A more ambitious and thorough reform that allows Spain to be placed on the same level as the leading countries in research, there’s still a lot to do Particularly in terms of job stability, salary and financing prospects.
Other measures that we adopt from RAICEX and which we think will encourage a return to Spain is the creation of part-time jobs that enable dual affiliation with a Spanish institution and one abroad, as well as the agency’s accreditation process. Makes it more flexible. National Assessment for Quality and Accreditation (ANECA) in the case of University Professors.
What does the new position mean to you and how do you think it can contribute to improving conditions for Spanish scientists in the UK?
Thanks to all our volunteers, CERU carries out a number of activities, initiatives and events whose main purpose is to promote the creation of a place and network of contacts for all Spanish researchers and scientists in the United Kingdom; Bringing science closer to the general public through seminars, conferences, workshops and awareness campaigns; ensure the rights and conditions of Spanish researchers and be their spokesmen in British and Spanish institutions as well as in the media, and finally, cooperation between research, development and innovation (R&D&I) institutions of both British and Spanish institutions provide facility. Therefore, as the President of CERU, it is a great honor and also a great opportunity to coordinate and lead all these activities. Improvement in the position of Spanish scientists in Britain, As well as promoting their professional development and giving visibility to their work.
What are the most interesting and innovative projects you are immersed in?
One of the projects I want to highlight is our recent publication book freely accessible Science-Me a Tale Which is a compilation of the winning stories of our literary competition Science stories for elementary school children. This is a very good initiative in collaboration with the Lillee Foundation and in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute and Principia Journals and the University of Liverpool. We are now in the fifth edition, and the initiative remains successful, with participants from all over the world and in both languages, Spanish and English.
Other projects we are currently working on are aimed at Strengthening the European Community through joint events with various European societies of researchers and scientists living in the United Kingdom, Due to the context created by the Brexit situation, we believe it is now more important than ever to give visibility to the European Community and be a spokesman for British institutions. To this end, we are working on the creation of a network of European scientists, whose purpose is to jointly carry out mentoring programs Guiding and mentoring students and researchers who have just arrived in the countryAs well as informational programs on Visa and others aimed at providing information on how to establish yourself as a professional in the United Kingdom.