£1bn boost for UK science
Jul 5, 2000
The UK government has announced a major new investment in laboratories and equipment for scientific research. The government will invest £325m in 2002/3 and £450m the following year. The Wellcome Trust, the world's largest biomedical research charity, will contribute an additional £225m over this period, bringing the total to £1bn over two years. In a separate move, grants for postgraduate research students will also be increased.
The new two-year Science Research Investment Fund will follow on from the Joint Infrastructure Fund, which will have invested £750m in research infrastructure by 2002. The new fund has four streams: £675m is earmarked for new buildings, the refurbishment of existing laboratories, and new equipment for universities in all areas of science; sums of £150m and £75m will be reserved for research in the biomedical sciences; and £100m will be used to modernise research council institutes and to contribute to large national projects. Universities applying to the scheme will be expected to find an average of 25% of the costs of any new investment from other sources.
Grants for PhD students funded by the research councils will increase from £6620 this year to £6800 next year, £7500 in the 2001/2 academic year, and to £9000 by the year 2003/4. The London weighting, currently worth an extra £1645, is expected to continue at its current level.
The investment was announced by the chancellor, Gordon Brown, at a major Anglo-American conference on technology in London today. "The commitment to science must mean constant renewal and modernisation of our science base" said Brown. "The scale of this investment is unprecedented." The new money is a result of the government's recent spending review. The results of the full review are expected later this month.
The new investment was "wholeheartedly welcomed" by the Save British Science Society. However, the society warned that "for the full effect of the new money to be felt, the Department of Education will need to be given extra resources to pay for higher salaries and other recurrent costs in university laboratories."