Recent highlights

These posts are some of the recent highlights from the CaSE blog. To see all of our recent news and commentary, please see our full blog.

CaSE welcomes Welsh Government’s reversal over HE budget cuts

CaSE has today welcomed the Welsh Government’s reversal over plans to cut the Higher Education budget.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCEW) was facing cuts of £42m, around a third of its budget. However, in today’s draft budget debate in the Welsh Assembly, the Finance Minister Jane Hutt confirmed HEFCW will now have to find £11m worth of savings. Read More »

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Maintaining the UK as a global hub for science and engineering

Ahead of the election, it was clear that immigration would be a hot topic this Parliament, and one that certainly impacts on UK science and engineering. Therefore, following the election CaSE set about exploring the issues surrounding immigration in the context of science and engineering, from skills shortages to the attitudes of the public. We also examined how the Government’s immigration policies are affecting this sector, making recommendations for how they may be refined to support the Government’s aim of rebalancing the economy with a greater emphasis on science and innovation. Read More »

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Productivity, R&D investment and apprenticeships

February begins with the publication of the Commons BIS select committee’s report on the Government’s Productivity plan.

For the full benefits of UK science and engineering to be realised, policies across all departments must be coordinated to support the overarching mission of nurturing and growing the UK’s science and engineering capabilities. Nowhere is this more obvious than in solving the Productivity Puzzle. Read More »

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Science Minister gives the CaSE Annual Lecture

CaSE Annual LectureLast night saw the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, give the 30th anniversary lecture of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

The event was kindly hosted by the Royal Institution and was attended by a sold-out audience from across the science and engineering community.

The Minister took the opportunity in his speech to announce new funding, and highlight the importance of the UK’s international research partnerships and the strength of ties with European research partners. Ahead of the lecture, the Science Minister had an article published in The Times, warning that Brexit risked damaging the UK’s world-beating scientists. Read More »

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CaSE launches new immigration report

Immigration report1CaSE has called on the Government to improve its immigration policies to maintain the UK’s position as a leading global hub of science and engineering.

In a report, launched today in the House of Lords, CaSE said that the Government’s anti-immigration rhetoric and immigration policies are putting the UK’s future economic and scientific success at risk. The report concludes that complex rules, unclear guidance, and bureaucracy are making immigration unnecessarily difficult for these economically-valuable workers. Read More »

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30 years of CaSE; does science still need saving?

1986 AdvertThirty years ago today, on 13th January 1986, a full page advertisement paid for by 1500 scientists appeared in The Times calling on the public to ‘Ask your Member of Parliament to save British science before it is too late’.

This led to the formation of the pressure group Save British Science, since renamed the Campaign for Science and Engineering.

This crowd-sourced action was prompted by a dire situation in UK research. Scientists were concerned about the ‘brain drain’ abroad, swingeing cuts to universities and whole areas of research being lost due to declining funding. They felt they needed a voice for science in Parliament, which is what we have provided ever since.

Today, despite recent Government’s efforts to protect the science budget, investment in research continues to fall behind that of our main industrial competitors and CaSE’s work is more important than ever. Commenting on the anniversary, Professor Denis Noble, one of the original founders, said:

“It would have been impossible for those of us who founded the organisation in 1986 to foresee such a strong case being made for science and engineering nearly 30 years later.”

30 years on from the original advert, CaSE Director Dr Sarah Main has had the following letter published in today’s Times:

Dear Sir

Thirty years ago today, 1500 scientists placed an advertisement in The Times calling on your readers to ‘Ask your Member of Parliament to save British science before it is too late’. It expressed their concern at the ‘brain drain’ abroad and at research lost due to declining budgets.

The parallels with 1986 are stark. Budgets are being heavily hit and government investment in science continues to fall behind competitor nations, even 30 years on.  There is a ‘brain block’, as opposed to a ‘brain drain’, as science students turn away from the UK believing they are not welcome.

The advert appealed to the public to make a stand for British science. I believe science is worth investing in. It is one of the UK’s great strengths and reaps rewards for us all. I wonder if your readers would agree and would stand up for British science today?

Stephen Metcalfe MP has also sponsored the following Early Day Motion in Parliament, celebrating CaSE’s 30th anniversary:

That this House marks the thirtieth anniversary of the advertisement placed in The Times on 13 January 1986 by 1,500 scientists which called on the public to ask their hon. Members to save British science before it is too late; notes that at that time concern was expressed about the brain drain abroad and the loss of research in the UK due to declining budgets; further notes that the organisation entitled Save British Science was established as a result and was later renamed the Campaign for Science and Engineering; applauds the work that both organisations have done over the last thirty years to promote UK science; and finally welcomes the efforts that the UK science and engineering community make to strengthen links between Science and Parliament.

In 30 years time, we expect science and engineering to be integral to shaping what life is like across the world. Will the UK be a creator of new knowledge and solutions to the world’s problems or a follower waiting for other countries lead the way?

The UK is a science superpower. Let’s not let it slide into second rate. Let’s back it with everything we’ve got.

The 30th anniversary gives an opportunity for those involved with CaSE, both past and present, to recall their time with the organisation and why CaSE remains so important.

Professor Bill Banks, University of Strathclyde and former Save British Science/CaSE Board Member:

“I was on the Committee when we changed the name and ethos to CaSE. I think it was an excellent move giving engineering an authoritative and powerful voice right to the heart of government. It has proved immensely beneficial over the years.”

Professor Dame Athene Donald, University of Cambridge and CaSE Advisory Council Member:

“CaSE is an organisation that, being independent and well-informed, can take a hard look at the issues facing the community and ask the questions of Government that need to be asked. It serves an extremely valuable role for the whole scientific community.”

Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.

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Recent Round-Up

CaSE has published its January 2016 e-bulletin, giving a summary of all CaSE’s activities and news over the last month. These include:

  • You are invited to attend the CaSE Annual Lecture , given by the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP, on the evening of 27th January at the Royal Institution.

Read More »

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New Report – Role of EU membership in UK science and engineering research

Read More »

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A closer look at the Spending Review research budget figures

CaSE policy intern, Joanna Scales, has spent some time analysing the figures for the resource and capital budgets announced in the recent Spending Review. We consider here what the outlook for the next parliament is far as spending on science is concerned. You can read more of our commentary on the spending review announcements here.

The key points regarding the research budget are:

  • The £4.7bn flat cash resource funding budget will be protected in real terms until 2019/20.
  • The difference between flat cash and real terms will be bridged by £1.5bn from the ODA (Official Development Assistance) budget held in DfID. The £1.5bn covers the period 2016/17 to 2020/21, whereas the rest of the resource budget is only confirmed up until the end of this Parliament in 2019/20.
  • The capital budget will receive an investment of £6.9bn between 2015/16 and 2020/21.
  • Totalling the resource and capital budgets together the research base budget in 2019/20 will be £6.3bn, rising from £5.8bn in 2015/16.
  • The Innovate UK budget will be maintained in cash terms.

Read More »

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The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

As the dust settles, CaSE Acting Director Naomi Weir takes an in-depth look at yesterday’s Spending Review. Further to this we have also taken a closer look at the numbers here.

osborneHaving been working towards the 25th November for so long, it seems strange to have reached the 26th. But here we are.

As little red books are put away, permanent potholes are pondered, and the Speaker’s heart rate returns to normal, we can lift our heads up and take a look at some of the details of the Spending Review. From many-a-quote yesterday I believe I should expect to find the devil in them. Read More »

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CaSE responds to 2015 Spending Review

HMTFurther to this CaSE has since taken a more detailed look at the spending review and the research budget figures.

CaSE has welcomed the Government’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement, announced by the Chancellor George Osborne today.

Among the headline figures, the Government has committed to protecting the £4.7 billion science budget in real terms up to the 2019/20. Read More »

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CaSE Vacancy: Membership Engagement and Development Manager

Position: Membership Engagement and Development Manager
Location: London
Salary: £28-34,000 depending on experience
Closing date for applications: 30th November 2015
Interviews: 8th December 2015 Read More »

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Back to the Future

In preparation for Wednesday’s Spending Review, I’ve been digging through the CaSE archives to see how things unfolded back in 2010 (when I was just a young PhD student almost oblivious to the mechanisations of Whitehall’s spending decisions).

I’ve come across this helpful CaSE submission to the Science & Technology Committee’s 2011 inquiry on the impact of the Spending Review. I recommend giving it a read. It shows how the full details of the 2010 Review slowly emerged over the weeks and months following the Chancellor’s speech. Read More »

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How long can science run without batteries?

Being less than a week away from the publication of the Spending Review, the science and engineering community is drowning in suspense and uncertainty. And let’s be honest, “A country that lives within its means” isn’t exactly an optimistic title for the document that will define the research and innovation atmosphere for the next five years. Read More »

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CaSE responds to the Nurse Review

Sir Paul Nurse has today published his independent review of the UK Research Councils.

The review was requested by the Government following the publication of the Science and Innovation Strategy in 2014.

Read More »

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‘Is the world flat?’ A question from Manchester policy week

To many onlookers, a ‘flat cash’ settlement in the forthcoming Spending Review would be a pretty good result for UK science. They may be right, in the context of a worryingly tight fiscal round, that it might be. But there are many – particularly in UK science – who think it would be a disaster.

This was the context for a seminar held by CaSE at the University of Manchester’s Policy Week earlier this month. Speaking alongside Naomi Weir of CaSE, Graeme Reid of CaSE and UCL, Andrew Miller, former Chair of the Science and Technology Committee and Andrew Jones of AstraZeneca, we discussed what we thought might happen in the Spending Review, why we thought it would happen and what that would mean for science over the longer term. Read More »

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CaSE AGM – 16th December

CaSE will be holding its 2015 Annual General Meeting on 16th December, 5-6pm, kindly hosted by the Wellcome Trust. The AGM will discuss CaSE’s activities and finances, and appoint new board members.

You can register for the event here. Read More »

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Recent Round-Up

CaSE has published its November 2015 e-bulletin, giving a summary of all CaSE’s activities and news over the last month. These include:

  • The new House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has this week published its report on the Science Budget, calling on the Government to back science in the upcoming Spending Review. Both our Acting Director and Chair gave evidence to the Committee, and the report’s publication received coverage in The Times and The Observer. CaSE has set out and commented on the Committee’s recommendations here. Read More »
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Science funding needs to be under the microscope

As the Government approaches the 2015 Spending Review, it is important that we argue the case for science spending to be, at the very least, maintained at its present levels. The investment of public money in research drives the investment of private R&D money in the UK. It is a pool of scientific, engineering and medical excellence that keeps multinational companies like GSK and innovative engineering firms such as Rolls-Royce in the UK, not a sense of national loyalty. At a time when many other developed nations are increasing their budgets for scientific research, we risk our pool becoming smaller. Read More »

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Commons S&T Committee backs science ahead of Spending Review

News this morning of four Government department’s settling their lot with the Treasury marks the beginning of the end of months of evidence gathering, advocacy, guess-work, negotiation and trade-offs as the Spending Review unfolds.

Today brings the publication of the first report from the new Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on the Science Budget. The Observer picked up on the report with the headline ‘Science budget cuts would be a disaster, MPs to tell George Osborne‘. With the Times choosing the headlines of ‘False Economy‘ and ‘Lower science spending ‘threatens nation’s future‘. Read More »

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