How do the different nations of the UK fair against each other when it comes to funding science and engineering?
CaSE has written to all the incoming politicians from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland about the importance of science and engineering. We’re sending them our report, Science, Engineering and the Devolved Nations.
That report includes a compelling visualisation, shown below, of different sorts of research or STEM funding (grouped as direct devolved/Westminster spending, and competitive funding from public and private sources), shown by share of UK total for each Nation, and compared to a baseline share of UK population. We struggled to find comparable data for some of these statistics, there’s more information on sources in our background document.
Scotland invests well above its population share in higher education and in the research base. It has a quantifiably excellent research base (e.g., as measured by citation rates or top ranking universities), and secures a high rate of competitive funding from the UK Research Councils, research charities and the EU. This extra income more than covers the higher rate of public investment. Scotland’s relative weakness is in business R&D; improving this should be a priority.
Wales invests in higher education at a proportionate rate for its population (although it has a high rate of participation), with public research funding slightly lower than might be expected. Unfortunately, it struggles to win its share of competitive funding and it has a relatively low level of private R&D investment. Strategies to improve R&D and innovation in Wales aim to build collaborative partnerships to create critical mass, but should start by increasing public investment in higher education and R&D.
Northern Ireland invests in HE and research at a level slightly below that expected for its population. Its small and geographically isolated research base, along with the funding shortfall, may explain why it wins only a small share of competitive research funding. It also has low levels of private investment in R&D, possibly reflecting its high number of smaller businesses. Northern Ireland’s new STEM policy work needs to be accompanied by significant investment.
England invests in higher education teaching and research at lower rates than might be expected for its population. However, it wins a large amount of competitive funding, possibly because it has many research centres of well above critical mass.
Working in all the Nations
CaSE will continue to campaign for STEM in every UK nation and will be visiting them all at various events in the coming months. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and would like to know more about or feed into our work, then please do get in touch.