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What the Party Leaders have to say on science and engineering

Party LettersThe political parties have today set out how they would support science and engineering if they are put into power in the General Election on May 7th.

The commitments are set out in letters to CaSE, which wrote to the leader of every political party with at least one MP in Westminster, sending them our election briefings and asking them how they will support science and engineering in the next Parliament. Read More »

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CaSE responds to 2015 Budget

In today’s budget the Chancellor stated that “future economic success depends on future scientific success”.

A successful long-term economic plan must therefore have a long-term plan for science at its core. He said the government was “choosing the future…choosing jobs… choosing the whole nation”. To do that the Chancellor, and the next government, must choose to increase investment in science and engineering over the long-term.

However, CaSE analysis shows that a £1bn real-terms shortfall in investment in the UK research base has accumulated over the course of this Parliament. Even taking into account the capital investment of £1.1bn a year in real terms, this shortfall will be over £2.3 bn by 2020 if current government spending policy continues.

CaSE Acting Director, Naomi Weir, said:

“For future economic success we can’t continue to rely on the UK’s historic scientific success, great though it may be. If the government wants sustainable growth it must reverse the squeeze on British science and engineering and instead increase investment in the UK research base.”

Research commissioned by CaSE shows that government investment in science and engineering boosts the economy; stimulates private sector investment, raising productivity, and creating more high-value jobs.

CaSE calls on the government to set an ambitious upward trajectory for public investment in science and engineering so that the UK can reap the benefits of a thriving, world-leading research base.

The resource ‘Science Budget’ has been eroded by  £1 bn in real-terms since 2010 and  this is set to increase to almost £3.2 billion by 2020 if the flat-cash ringfence policy is continued by the next government.

CaSE Acting Director, Naomi Weir, said:

“Major investment in scientific infrastructure is very welcome and necessary, but to be most effective it must go hand-in-hand with funding for the scientists conducting the research and their project costs. It may not make for great headlines in the short-term, but ensuring that there is sufficient funding for the ideas and people that make British science great will be essential for our future scientific, economic, and national success.”

CaSE calls on the government to make the most of its long-term commitment to capital investment in science by matching its resource commitments to capital so that our world class facilities can be used to their full capacity.

Unpicking the detail of the budget – what’s new and what’s not

Today’s budget includes some very welcome announcements of new money for science and innovation, totalling over £240m. It also contains new details on how previously announced, but unallocated, funds will be spent.

New money

  • £40m for demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things (Innovate UK)
  • £100m for R&D into Intelligent Mobility – driverless car technology (Innovate UK)
  • £11m for tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield (Innovate UK)
  • £11.8 million in a new Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Sustainability Metrics in Harpenden, Hertfordshire (Industrial Strategy spend)
  • £20m to Health North to promote innovation through analysis of data (Department of Health)
  • £60m new Energy Research Accelerator (part Innovate UK, part Research Councils spend – details tbc)

New details on old money

  • Up to £30m to the Francis Crick Institute from the sale of MRC assets (depending on the sale value)
  • £10m on digital currency technology (from existing EPSRC budget)

The Chancellor also outlined how £538m of previously announced capital would be spent. The below will come of the £900m capital that remained unallocated after the results of the capital consultation were announced at the end of 2014.

  • £138m for UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), subject to a satisfactory business case and the provision of substantial co-funding. It will have hubs in London, and further centres initially in Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
  • £400m to 2020-21 for the next round of competition-based scientific infrastructure funding (the next round of RPIF)

The Chancellor also announced the government’s intention to introduce income-contingent loans for PG research students. This will now be openly consulted on alongside the planned consultation on opening up loans for PG taught students. Questions will include how the PGR loans could interface best with existing funding for research – including the principle of funding excellent research, working in partnership with industry, charities and other partners, and how they can make the UK offer for PG researchers internationally competitive.


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CaSE responds to changes to GCSE practical science assessments

Ofqual has announced the adoption of a new approach for GCSE science practical assessment that will use written exam questions in place of controlled assessment.

Each exam board will have to specify a minimum number of practical activities that students must complete in class, set no lower than 8 in each individual science subject and 16 for combined science. Each school will be required to confirm that they have enabled their students to do the full range of practical work and students will be required to keep a record of their work. Read More »

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CaSE responds to Labour’s plan to cut tuition fees

Ed Miliband has today announced that a future Labour government would cut university tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000. The announcement comes with the assurance that the policy is ‘fully funded’, paid for by a cut to tax relief on the pensions of higher earners. Read More »

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CaSE kicks off the election year with a debate and a call for action

The sold-out CaSE cross-party debate, kindly hosted by the Royal Society tonight, brings together the science spokespeople from the three main Westminster parties to discuss the future direction of science and engineering in the UK. Read More »

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A step in the right direction for immigration

The Conservative party leadership has reportedly rejected proposals by Home Secretary, Theresa May, to force international students to return home after graduation before applying for work visas in the UK.

UK immigration policy currently allows international students to stay if they find a graduate-level job paying £24,000 a year within four months of graduating. Read More »

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‘Best place in the world to do science’ – but not if you’re from abroad?

CaSE Director, Dr Sarah Main said:

“I am dismayed that the Government seems intent on thwarting its commitment to make ‘Britain the best place in the world to do science’ with immigration proposals that threaten to put off the exceptional scientists and engineers who wish to come here.” Read More »

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CaSE responds to Science and Innovation Strategy

CaSE finds much to welcome in the Government’s science and innovation strategy, but important questions remain unanswered. Read More »

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CaSE warns of unintended consequences of proposed reforms to GCSE practical science

CaSE is concerned with Ofqual’s move to examine science GCSEs solely by written exam. CaSE sees that there is a real danger of further erosion of practical science experience and skills for GCSE science students.  There seems to be no evidence that this form of assessment would lead to better outcomes for young people. Read More »

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How to make the UK the ‘best place to do science’

Election 2015 – Policy Briefings

Ahead of the 2015 Election, the Campaign for Science and Engineering has worked with its members and collaborators to develop a toolkit that government can use to realise its ambition to make the UK a leading scientific nation.

Every major political party has put science and engineering at the heart of their plans for a prosperous innovative Britain, driving high skills jobs and growth. Read More »

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European Scientific Adviser Role Abolished

CaSE is extremely disappointed to hear that the position of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the European Commission President is being abolished.

The role of European CSA is an hugely important one, ensuring that independent scientific advice and evidence-based policy remains embedded in the highest levels of EU-decision making. Read More »

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Greater ambition needed for science and engineering

It is great to see the Liberal Democrats recognising the integral role that a healthy science base plays in supporting and growing innovative businesses. Today’s announcement proposes continuing to ringfence the science budget throughout the next Parliament and is a welcome first step. Read More »

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CaSE responds to 2014 GCSE Results

This year sees many changes to the GCSE system including the addition of the Further Additional Science qualification and changes to school accountability measures driving behaviour change. The changes make it difficult to unpick precisely what today’s results mean for science. Equally, the figures out today highlight the increasingly complex nature of the options for studying science facing schools, teachers and students. Read More »

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Rise of science and maths – CaSE responds to 2014 A-level results

Rising popularity of science and maths

Today’s A-level results show the continued rise in popularity of science and maths subjects at A-level. Maths continues its extraordinary rise to overtake English as the highest entry subject with 10.7% of the total A-level entry. Biology retains its position in third place with 7.7% of total entry. Chemistry assumes its highest ranking over the period 2002-2014 to take fifth place. Physics regains a 2002 high of 4.4% after a dip in popularity in the mid-2000s. Read More »

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CaSE calls for Government to support skilled migration

The Government recognises, and CaSE advocates, that higher education is one of the UK’s major export industries and that immigration is needed for building a strong science and engineering sector. These sectors both operate in a global environment competing for skilled and talented students and workers.  Read More »

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CaSE looks forward to working with new Science and Education Ministers

Today has seen change across ministerial responsibilities for universities, science, education and skills:

  • Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, The Rt Hon Dr Greg Clark (Formerly David Willetts – standing down at next election)
  • Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan (Formerly Michael Gove – appointed Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)
  • Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Nick Boles (Formerly Matthew Hancock – appointed Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy) Read More »
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CaSE responds to ‘Medical Research: What’s it Worth?’ Study

CaSE welcomes today’s launch of the ‘Medical Research: What’s it worth?’ study which shows that each pound invested in cancer-related research by the taxpayer and charities returns around 40 pence to the UK every year.

Along with previous What’s it worth studies and CaSE’s report on the Economic Significance of the UK Science Base, this builds on the evidence to support advice that government can drive economic growth by investing in science and engineering research. Read More »

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CaSE welcomes launch of Race Equality Charter Mark

CaSE welcomes today’s launch of the Equality Challenge Unit’s race equality charter mark national trial. Indeed one of the key recommendations from our recent report, ‘Improving Diversity in STEM’ was that universities should proactively engage with the Equality Challenge Unit’s Race Equality Charter Mark, using it as a framework to uncover and address any barriers to access and progression for staff and students from an ethnic minority group. So we are pleased to see this recommendation so broadly adopted. Read More »

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Science and engineering in the 2014 European elections

One week ahead of the 2014 European Elections, CaSE and Euroscience have published the responses of the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, to our questions on their EU science and engineering policies covering research, skills, innovation and evidence-based policymaking. Read More »

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New CaSE report: Improving diversity in STEM

A new CaSE report, Improving Diversity in STEM, shows that diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is much needed, but by all measures progress is too slow. Read More »

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