All-Party Group on Science and Technology
The formation of the Northern Ireland Assembly All-Party Group on Science and Technology, in February 2012, heralded the start of a new and developing relationship between the science and engineering community in Northern Ireland, Members of the Assembly (MLAs), and the Executive.
The All-Party Group (APG) is chaired by Basil McCrea MLA and managed by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the world’s leading chemistry community. It meets three times a year with the principle objective of bringing together MLAs and others with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Northern Ireland. Read More
Speech by Lord Heseltine to the Campaign for Science and Engineering, Science Museum IMAX Theatre, 27th November 2012. Sponsored by Airbus and EADS
Thank you for inviting me and it is a pleasure to be here. Read More
Eight out of ten Welsh universities have had their plans to charge tuition fees at the full rate of £9,000 in 2012/13. In England, more than a third of universities will be charging all of their fees at the full rate and nearly six-tenths will charge some fees at that rate.
The Welsh Government has committed to providing students who are ordinarily resident in Wales (as well as European Union students in Wales) a non-repayable tuition fee grant covering the cost of any fees that they are charged above £3,465, no matter where in the UK they study. So Welsh (and EU) students will not themselves have to pay the full £9,000.
People came from across science and engineering to fill the Long Gallery at Stormont Castle last week, hoping to achieve a new level of political engagement in Northern Ireland.
The event, Science and the Northern Ireland Assembly, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and cosponsored by CaSE, had cross party support from Basil McCrea MLA, Sue Ramsey MLA and John McCallister MLA. Several other Members of the Legislative Assembly, including the First Minister, Peter Robinson, and the leader of the Ulster Unionists, Tom Elliot, came by and heard about the importance of science and engineering for Northern Ireland.
Last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly election turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib for the political classes and media commentators who had so enthusiastically gathered to pick over the results. The outcome maintained the status quo in many ways, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein receiving a renewed mandate to continue as the two largest parties within the mandatory coalition.
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.
In the run-up to the devolved elections on May 5th, CaSE has produced a policy report – Science, Engineering & the Devolved Nations 2011. It makes a series of recommendations for political parties campaigning for office and for the incoming assemblies and governments.
CaSE has also produced recommendations targeted for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The underlying rationale for this work can be found in the more detailed devolved working paper.
The public in the devolved nations are increasingly interested in science and engineering. By the time people cast their votes, they need to know how each party would respond to the challenges facing science and engineering.
CaSE has written to the leaders of the political parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland asking them to set out their policies for science and engineering in advance of the devolved elections. We are publishing their responses below, as we receive them.
Thank you for your letter asking the Scottish Green Party to set out its science and engineering policies ahead of the 2011 Election.
The Scottish Green Party believes that science and technology have huge potential to bring benefits to society in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way. It is vital to encourage and promote scientific research, development and application. We can certainly commit to the continuation of the role of Chief Scientific Advisor. This role has been important in challenging the assumptions which underpin government policy, such as the decision to approve a new coal-fired power station before carbon capture and storage has been developed.
Thank you for your letter of 21 March. I absolutely agree that science and engineering are crucial to Scotland’s future and I value the commitment of the Campaign for Science and Engineering in keeping these vital issues high in the political agenda.
Science and engineering are key to Scotland’s future success. I have set out ambitious but realistic plans to create 250,000 jobs in Scotland over the next decade, and emerging technologies in low-carbon industries are critical to its success.
Science, Engineering and Policy-making – What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Scotland? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister, and recommit to a Chief Scientific Advisor?
Our manifesto commits us to developing a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Scotland, led by the Chief Scientific Adviser, and this will be taken forward after the election.
One of the genuine success stories in the last generation has been the growth in the reputation of Scotland’s research and science capacity. Life sciences alone contribute £3 billion to the Scottish economy. In proportion to the size of our country, Scottish scientific research is cited more often than any other in the world.
Scotland can be immensely proud of this achievement.
Now we should aspire to go further still. Publicly funded science and research has been a massive success in recent times, but Scotland’s private industrial research investment is only about one third of the UK level at only 0.6 per cent of GDP.
1. [What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Northern Ireland? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister and a Chief Scientific Advisor?]
The SDLP believes that government should widely consult in order to gather expert knowledge and opinion, to inform the decision-making process. For example, we rejected the flawed 2011- 2015 Budget, and proposed recasting the Budget so that all of the sectoral interests in society – government, business, trade unions, the community and voluntary sector, and wider civic society – enter into a contract on a set of negotiated economic and social outcomes.
As Northern Ireland starts to get back on its feet after the economic downturn, we must make sure that our economy is best adapted to take advantage of new opportunities in new markets and in new sectors. At the top of the list is research and innovation, which are key to making our economy competitive and would help facilitate economic growth.
1. [What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Wales? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister, and recommit to a Chief Scientific Advisor?]
Welsh Conservatives highly value science and engineering. We are committed to improving STEM subject teaching through our Teach Wales programme, and value thorough consultation with industry sectors when making important policy decisions that could impact science and engineering sectors.
Welsh Labour is clear about the importance of science and engineering in our lives and to our ambitions for the future of Wales, and we have demonstrated this through our policies in government.
One of my first actions on becoming First Minister was to appoint Lesley Griffiths as a Deputy Minister with specific responsibility for science.
We have subsequently taken a number of positive steps to promote science and engineering, which Welsh Labour are committed to building on in the next Assembly term.