Tag Archives: Statistics

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 »

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Science and engineering courses continue to increase in popularity

Last week the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) released data for the number of students starting degree courses in the 2013/14 academic year.

Enrolment on science subjects (in which HESA include engineering, medicine and maths) was up 8% on the previous year and 21% in the past seven years* (from 2007/08). The social sciences, arts and humanities saw a 5% increase in student numbers on the previous year and a 10% increase from 2007/08. The total number of students starting higher education increased by 5% from 2012/13 and by 13% from seven years ago. Read More »

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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.

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Do we need a statistics campaign?

Getstats is both the issue and the midwife of a growing national consensus. There is deepening agreement that the UK, and its constituent territories, need a more numerate population …if the economy is to be rebalanced, productivity to increase, families and households to cope with the quantities of modern life and together we are to talk to one another sensibly about risk and probability and so devise lasting policies for climate change, energy and ageing. Read More »

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Do Election Statistics Add Up?

Dr Leonor Sierra is Science and Policy Manager at Sense About Science

With less than a day to go before the polling stations open, it’s time to choose who wins our vote. For weeks we’ve heard politicians make claims and promises about crime, unemployment, cancer treatment and tax cuts using various statistics to back these up. But how can we work out what the figures are telling us? Statistics can be hyped and sensationalised but knowing a bit about them can give us a way to unpick arguments. Read More »

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Statistics in Parliament

Andrew Garratt is Manager for External Affairs and the Statistics User Community at the Royal Statistical Society.

On 22 February, representatives from the three main political parties set out their policies on official statistics at a public event hosted by the Royal Statistical Society.

In his opening remarks the Society President and chair of the event, David Hand, said that the regrettable lack of trust in official statistics did not reflect the quality of the figures being produced, but instead represented a combination of a number of things, including a lack of understanding of the complexities of official statistics; mistrust arising from the misuse of statistics, either deliberate or accidental; and a perceived difference between the ground truth as the public see things, and the overall published statistical summaries. Read More »

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SET Statistics: progress since 1986?

Without fanfare the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published this year’s Science, Engineering and Technology Statistics. I am a big fan of SET stats as they give us the evidence on whether or not the government is making progress in science and engineering across a number of areas. There is too much data (7 sections covering expenditure on R&D, international comparisons and SET personnel) to do a comprehensive analysis so I will look at what changes have occured to research funding between 1986 (the year CaSE was founded as Save British Science) and 2007.

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