The infrastructure crisis facing Britain's universities is urgent and should be addressed soon and not wait until the end of the comprehensive spending review, the Royal Society heard.
Sir Aaron Klug, in his presidential address to Britain's most eminent science organisation, warned that if the government could not find the Pounds 110 million a year that the Dearing report estimated was needed to pay full research council overheads, the science base would be harmed.
The effect would be to reduce the amount and quality of science in the UK, the number of trained people who might fill jobs in high-technology industry and, possibly, inward investment.
In a speech concentrating on the Dearing report, Sir Aaron concluded: "The way out is for the government to find the Pounds 110 million now and comparable sums in the following years.
"This is a small percentage of the total government budget, but I think it is crucial for the future of the UK economy."