Ukip MEP: researchers being ‘taken advantage of’

Researchers are being “taken advantage of” and put up with very low wages and insecure careers.

March 13, 2015

This is the view of Julia Reid, UK Independence Party MEP for South West England, who said that she knows of scientists who have had to take jobs as gas fitters to support their families.

Speaking at an election debate in the Houses of Parliament organised by the Society of Biology, she said that academia relies on people “being dedicated to research who often work for free when the money runs out”. Researchers often work for very low wages and have no security in their careers, she added.

“The wastage is amazing. I’ve had to see men leave research and go and take jobs as gas fitters or become teachers in order to support their families and it is such a waste of our resources,” she said.

Dr Reid studied biochemistry as a mature student at the University of Bath, before working as a university researcher and then gaining a PhD in 1998.

She went on to work as head of academic research and laboratory manager in the Diabetes and Lipid Research Laboratory at the Royal United Hospital and in other positions in industry before becoming a researcher for Ukip.

“We take advantage of the scientists at the moment and we really must put more money into it to pay them back for all the hard work and dedication that they have shown in the various disciplines,” she said. “If Ukip are elected I will do my best to ensure that funding for science is increased.”

Six political parties were represented at the debate on 11 March. Liam Byrne, shadow minister for universities, science and skills, said that there had been a “lack of transparency” around some of the decisions made as part of the government’s consultation on capital funding.

He said his priority as science minister in the first 100 days of any Labour government would be to publish a plan to stop universities from going bust.

Universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark said that on immigration, he wanted to increase the number of international students coming to the UK and that his ambition was for the country to overtake the US as the number one destination for overseas students.

Meanwhile Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat science spokesman, said that there were still “massive problems” surrounding the immigration of highly talented researchers to the UK. 

Dr Huppert said that his party also wanted to double innovation spending across the economy.

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