Forward into Battle over science funding policy

May 19, 1995

The Government's science policy is devoid of long-term thinking, lacking coordination between Government departments and has resulted in real terms reductions in funding, according to John Battle, the Labour Party's shadow science minister.

Launching an attack on the Government's achievements in science, he said that his recent visits to scientific establishments and leading firms and discussions with scientists had highlighted a "real feeling that the whole system is locked into short-termism" which is threatening to cause long-term damage to the science base.

Mr Battle accused Government departments of "silo-thinking", with little consideration by ministers of the impact of their actions on the overall science landscape. The Government spent Pounds 5 billion and industry Pounds 6 billion on research and development in 1985/86. By 1992/93, the Government figure was down to Pounds 4.3 billion out of a total spend of Pounds 12.2 billion. Science spending by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Environment are at less than half the 1986/87 level.

Mr Battle said: "The science budget has effectively been undermined by spending cuts in other departments. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster may claim to be holding his science budget, but it has been dramatically undermined by falls in the departmental spending elsewhere." However, Labour is resisting any commitment to increasing funding for science if it gains power at the next election.

Mr Battle said that although he welcomed the Technology Foresight initiative, he had strong reservations about the methods used to carry it out. More details of Labour's policy on science are likely to emerge from six major national hearings. These will be held during September and October in Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Mr Battle said that he was also concerned by the explosion in short-term contracts for research and lecturing staff in higher education institutions and cuts in spending on equipment and refurbishment of universities.

Labour would also like to see an overhaul of 16-18 education to stem the decline in numbers going on to study science in further and higher education.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman