£1bn boost for UK science
Jul 13, 2004
The UK government announced yesterday that it will increase its annual expenditure on science by more than £1bn over the next three years. This rise, which will provide extra funding for research, university infrastructure and the commercialization of research, is part of a ten-year plan to increase the UK's total spending on R&D from around 1.9% of gross domestic product in 2004 to 2.5% a decade from now.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, made the announcement as part of his presentation of the government's biennial spending review. He said that science funding will rise from £3.9bn in 2004/5 to £5bn in 2007/8, amounting to an average growth in real terms of 5.8% per year. This will provide central funding for research councils so that they can "respond more quickly to emerging priorities and opportunities", and will give universities more money to spend on improving their crumbling labs. It will also provide additional money for researchers to commercialize their research and more support for businesses to ensure they make the best use of university research.
The ten-year plan sets out the government's aim for increasing public and private spending on R&D between now and 2014. It includes a number of measures to improve science education, including more pay for some teachers and the introduction of at least one teaching assistant for science subjects in every secondary school in England. It also increases teacher-training bursaries for science graduates to £7000 and boosts "Golden Hellos" for new science teachers to £5000.
Julia King, chief executive of the Institute of Physics, says the Institute welcomes the extra science funding but believes that the government must address a number of issues affecting the supply of physicists, particularly education. "The first step is to invest in the infrastructure of school science teaching and university physics departments, and to foster a community in Britain that is welcoming to science," says King.
Details of how the new money will be divided up between disciplines will be announced later this year.
About the author
Edwin Cartlidge is News Editor of Physics World