Large cut to capital budget could damage science research


21 December 2010

Professor Jim Iley, director of science and education at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "Given the financial climate, the funding settlement - particularly in terms of the resource available to support research - provides a reasonably stable base upon which the community can build. But particularly worrying in the RSC's view is the huge 50 to 60 per cent cut in the capital budget to support higher education institutions, which is where much of our research takes place. Globally renowned research requires an internationally excellent infrastructure so there needs to be a watching brief that these large cuts in capital expenditure do not have adverse affects on the UK's international competitive ability.

"Was there irony in the government's report headlined 'highlight of the year - UK scientists win three Nobel Prizes in 2010', when three of the four Nobel recipients are of non-UK origin? This is at a time when the government is vigorously pursuing an immigration cap policy that is likely to be particularly damaging to the movement of top class scientists. If the government wants innovation in the UK then it has to create the necessary conditions for scientists of different cultures and backgrounds to come together to share ideas. 

"The RSC welcomes the commitment to support early career postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers; they are the lifeblood of the future science community. But we are concerned that little mention was made of early career academics. The allocation appears to focus on concentrating resources in internationally excellent researchers - who are almost certainly established researchers - yet it is absolutely vital there is a strategy to ensure those at the start of their careers can access the necessary funding to develop their research.

"Protecting the research, skills and people required to ensure the continuation of a strong UK science base is of paramount importance. As the professional body for the chemical sciences, the RSC is willing to facilitate engagement with the community to help identify the necessary capabilities that are needed to enable our chemical science base to address the major global issues that confront society."

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