CaSE Blog

The CaSE blog compiles comment and opinion from across the science and engineering policy sector.

For a better navigation of the blog take a look at our tag cloud.

You can also register for up-to-the-minute email alerts for the CaSE blog.

The next crop of MPs must be more statistically literate than the last

In 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as I’m sure you know, is 25%.

Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the women and men elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion pound budgets and hold government to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Latest ONS figures bring good and bad news for government investment in R&D

CaSE’s analysis shows the proportion of government spending invested in UK R&D has been decreasing since 2003, putting us below international averages and competitor nations. In 2003 1.37% of total government spending went on R&D. In 2013 this figure had dropped to 1.18%, or £8.4 billion.

We’ve analysed new figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD). The stats show that GERD rose 5% in real-terms in 2013, reaching an all-time high of £28.9 billion. However, this equals 1.67% of GDP, a slight increase from 2012 but still below the European average of 2% and far lower than in the past. The government’s contribution to the UK’s total R&D spend was 0.49% of GDP.

UK R&D is higher than ever before in real terms

The good news is that £28.9 billion was spent on R&D performed in the UK in 2013. This is a cash-terms increase of £1.9 billion, or 7% from 2012. If inflation is taken into account, in constant prices, this represents a 5% increase and an all-time high, beating the last peak in 2011.

Figure 2

Business is by far the largest funder of R&D in the UK, contributing £13.3 billion in 2013, 46% of the total. This was up £750 million in constant prices from 2012. The pharmaceutical industry was the largest business investor at £4.1 billion and the automotive industry was second at £2.1 billion.

Government, including research councils and higher education funding councils, is the second largest funding sector, investing £8.4 billion in UK R&D activity, 29% of total funding. This is up by £555 million from 2012 in constant prices.

The dip in government investment in 2012 can largely be accounted for by the £400 million lower capital investment that year following the 2010 Spending Review. Capital investment has since increased considerably. Nonetheless, government contribution to GERD has been on a steady but significant decline.

Government investment in R&D hasn’t kept pace with overall spending

As a proportion of GDP, government investment in R&D increased from 0.46% in 2012 to 0.49% in 2013 but has been on an overall decline since 2009 and is still lower than in 2003. The picture is even worse if you look at it as a proportion of total government spending – or as economists call it, Total Managed Expenditure. In 2003 1.37% of total government spending went on R&D. In 2013 this figure was 1.18%. Between 2003 and 2013 government spending increased by 56% but spending on investment in R&D only increased by 34%.

Figure 1

Science is Vital have calculated government R&D spend in 2012 to be 0.48%. The slight difference between ours and theirs is due to revisions to GDP figures by the government.

What does this tell us?

It’s great news that the investment in R&D in the UK has increased on last year and that government investment rose slightly in 2013. But the overall downward trend in government investment is very concerning. The next government will need to act decisively to reverse it – CaSE has called on the all the political parties to commit to increase government investment in R&D over 10 years to reach the level of Germany, which is 0.84% of GDP.

We’ve sent this call and our other election messages to all the party leaders – you can read their responses here – and are engaging with parliamentary candidates in the run-up to the election to make the case for why investing in science and engineering is important. Many have responded positively.

You can also help by contacting your local candidates so that the next Parliament has more MPs who understand the importance of investing in science and engineering.

A more detailed CaSE briefing on the R&D investment statistics is available here and detailed briefings on our election calls are here.

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged | 1 Response

Prevent, transform, cure – putting people with arthritis at the heart of the election

There are around ten million people living in the UK with a musculoskeletal condition, of which there are many variations, ranging from the most common, osteoarthritis, to less prevalent conditions such as lupus.

What unites all of these conditions is the pain that they can cause and the impact that they can have on the people that have them, making it harder for them to do the things that so many of us take for granted- going to work, meeting friends, spending time with family. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Evidence Matters

Using reliable evidence honestly and effectively is crucial to making policy in the public interest – while its misuse means that opportunities for improving social outcomes are missed.

With the general election less than three months away, politicians and the media will bombard us with claim and counter-claim about the best ways to reduce crime, educate our children and care for the vulnerable – but how can the electorate know what to believe? Ask for Evidence is a new tool developed by Sense About Science for the public to hold politicians, commentators and others to account for how they use evidence – helping to sort policy claims that are backed by evidence from those that aren’t. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Building a Stronger Future – National Academies

This Spring will see UK citizens go to the polls and exercise their right to choose who governs the country. The last election saw the formation of the first coalition government since the Second World War, and we do not yet know what 2015 will bring. These are uncertain times. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged | Comments closed

Returners to Bioscience

The UK is facing a skills shortage. Everyone is saying it – from David Cameron to Paul Nurse – but what can we do about it? One potential source of talent lies within the so-called ‘returners’ community; those who have taken extended career breaks but often face difficulties in trying to return to work. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The looming skills deficit

Nearly 60 per cent of employers are concerned they will be unable to recruit the engineering skills and talent their business needs, according to our new skills survey. But, it is not only engineering employers who should be worried about the looming skills crisis. So serious is the scale of the problem that, if it continues, the UK’s future economic prosperity could be at risk. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Concerning the Scottish curriculum

The Scottish Parliament’s Education Committee is reviewing progress on the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), the transformative programme for 3 to 18 education in Scotland. Because the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) Education Committee works to identify and promote priorities for education in Scotland at all levels, it has been involved in monitoring and responding to CfE. Read More »

Also posted in CaSE, Highlights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CaSE 2014 Annual Lecture – A Journey to Mars

By Nancy Williams, CaSE Intern

On Friday night Dr Ellen Stofan, NASA’s Chief Scientist, gave the Campaign for Science and Engineering’s 24th Annual Distinguished Lecture.

In front of a packed IMAX theatre at the Science Museum, Ellen took us through some of the extraordinary advances in science, technology and engineering resulting from exploration of space, and the challenges even now being worked on by scientists across the world driven by NASA’s journey to Mars. Read More »

Also posted in CaSE, Highlights | Tagged | Comments closed

Charities at the heart of UK medical research

Medical research charities exist to support research that will help us to understand the condition or develop treatments to help people affected.

This support is not insignificant. AMRC member charities fund over a third of publicly funded research in the UK, spending £1.3bn in 2013. This is in large part down to the generosity of the UK public who make medical research their most popular charitable cause.


Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World-class skills for world-class engineering

They may have different views on how to achieve it, but all three main political parties agree that developing world-class infrastructure in the UK is vital in enabling both job creation and economic prosperity.

With that however, comes a challenge. If we want world class infrastructure, we need a world class workforce to deliver it. The numbers speak for themselves – the UK will need around 87,000 engineers, per year, over the next ten years to meet current demand.

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Data Manifesto: Improving data for policy making, democracy and prosperity

CASE has recently launched important briefings in the run up to the next election including a call for a 10-year plan for government spending on research and development that exceeds growth and aims to reach current investment levels in Germany and the United States. The Financial Times in a recent editorial has also indicated that it would be preferable to invest in the UK’s science base than to have tax cuts, if there is any cash to spare in the next Parliament.

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Revitalising primary science

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , | 1 Response

Diversity in STEM and the Women In Space resource

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What will the referendum mean for science and engineering?

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Research funding and the Scottish referendum

Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Making the case for skills

Lord Baker calls it ‘The Skills Mismatch’, Lord Adonis ‘The Fractured Economy’ and now The Prince’s Trust has coined ‘The Skills Crunch’, but whichever snappy name grabs your attention they all boil down to the same thing: Britain is struggling to align its education system with the skill needs of the economy. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Help shape the BIS Science and Innovation Strategy

The new Science and Innovation Strategy, which will be published later this year, is an important deliverable for government, because it will set out how we ensure UK capabilities remain world-leading while at the same time contributing to economic growth and scientific excellence.

Science and innovation are key drivers of economic growth and jobs in the UK: for every £1 we spend on research, 50p is generated for the economy each year thereafter. Read More »

Also posted in Highlights | Tagged , , | Comments closed

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 »

Also posted in Highlights, Press releases, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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 »

Also posted in CaSE, Highlights, Press releases | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

  • Read our blog Read our blog    Read our blog

  • RSS Latest CaSE Tweets

  • Archives

  • Meta