RSC calls on government to invest in excellence


05 October 2010

The Royal Society of Chemistry in its submission to the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review today called for the government to make investing in the science base a high priority.

The RSC provided evidence to the Treasury on the past and future contribution of the chemical sciences, which makes an enormous contribution to our economy and enhances the British public's quality of life. Chemistry research alone enables the UK to generate 258 billion each year, or 21% of the nation's GDP. A sustained, broadly-based economic recovery depends on the UK's strengths in these areas.

Chemistry, which lies at the heart of the most promising multi-disciplinary research, can provide an even greater boost to our economy in the future, but only if we invest in our scientific skills and infrastructure. This means that we must have an internationally competitive science education system, which is accessible to all students of ability, excellent research in our universities and a collaborative business environment which encourages widespread innovation.

A report commissioned by Oxford Economics, on behalf of the RSC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, found last week that one in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research. Industries reliant on chemistry contribute an astonishing 258 billion to the UK economy, equivalent to 21% of UK GDP; supports six million jobs, accounts for at least 15% of the UK's exported goods and attracts significant inward investment.

UK chemistry is classified as world class and lies at the heart of the most exciting multi-disciplinary research programmes and holds the key to the industrial success stories of the future. Chemistry graduates also earn an extra 187,000 in their working lifetime over non-graduates, giving the exchequer an extra 132,000 per person - one of the highest returns for any subject.

Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the RSC, said: "Nobody doubts we are in an age of austerity, but priority should be given to maintaining the UK's position as home to world-class scientific research. Research funding is not simply a tap you can turn off and then expect the same quality product to emerge when you try and turn it on again. There needs to be a sustained funding stream to plan and implement the fundamental work needed for our prosperity.

"The Oxford Economics report also demonstrates the extent to which developments that are led or underpinned by the chemical sciences contribute to the economic well-being of the UK. Our CSR submission therefore sends a clear message that it is essential for the UK to prioritise our investment in science in the continued development of the skills pipeline, from schools to university and beyond."

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RSC submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010
October 2010 - download the full copy
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