The Case Diary includes the latest information on our activites. The Diary archive, available via the links on the left, includes diary entries as well as all the information from our What's New section.
|31/03/04 Wealth creation from science, engineering and technology
Alice Sharp Pierson today attended a reception and debate at the Royal Society at which a draft report on Wealth Creation from SET was presented and discussed.
30/03/04 Postgraduate poster party
Alice Sharp Pierson and Rosemay Davies today visited a poster display by postgraduates in the Deaprtment of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University College London. Rosemary subsequently attended the Mildner Lecture, given by Prof. John Roulston. Speaking before the event, Alice Sharp Pierson said "If the work is like previous years, it will be of very high standard. It is very interesting to talk with these people about what they have done."
23/03/04 Private investment in science
SBS today emphasised the importance of investment in research and development by the private sector. In an article in Innovation Policy Review, SBS argues that the Government has had "more reviews, consultations and announcements than can possibly be good for us" but that many of the problems that have been identified would be simple to solve. "Crumbling research infrastructure, badly-equipped laboratories in schools, poor quality advice on issues of food safety could all be rectified within a couple of years, with a combination of more money and some fairly obvious reforms"
But SBS argued that the failure of most British industry to invest in research was a much harder problem to solve. "Although the tax regime may be important, this problem is not primarily due to the failings of this or any other government. The government's 10-year strategy may help, but the scientific and business communities must do more to help themselves, and resist the temptation to look to the government to solve all our ills."
22/03/04 Science in schools
SBS today called in the education system to provide better advice on the jobs that will be available to children who choose to study science. In an interview for BBC Radio Five Live, SBS Director Peter Cotgreave, said: "I bet you there aren't many unemployed physics graduates in the country. The job opportunities available to people who have science qualifications are, on average, wider and better-paid than those that are available to others."
17/03/04 Science in the Budget
SBS today welcomed the fact that the Chancellor stressed science in his budget statement, but warned that any new investment must be used wisely. In an interview for BBC Radio Five Live, SBS Director said "Gordon Brown has put up the science budget a couple of times, and he's been making a lot of very positive speeches. But he hasn't given any indication of the size of the numbers. So until we see that he's actually talking about, what he's actually going to do, it's very difficult to make a judgement about whether or not he really is going to make Britain the best place in the world to do science."
17/03/04 Image of Science
SBS today called for the scientific, business and political communities to have a more realistic attitude to changing the image of science. In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, SBS Director Peter Cotgreave said:
School children are not going to choose to study physics just because Gordon Brown tells them that science is good for them. As for what to do about this, we need to stop the pretence that adults have the slightest understanding of what young people do for fun these days. Most of the "science is fun" activities that you see are not, in fact, fun. We need to improve careers advice in school: children are being short-changed when they are told that if they do history, English and French, they can be the next Jeremy Paxman, but if they do physics, chemistry and maths, their careers adviser has no idea what they might end up doing.
We need to get more practising scientists to spend a small proportion of their time talking to the world about what they do. And the scientific community has to learn that in a grown-up debate in a democracy, sometimes you lose the argument even when you’re right. And it has to stop whingeing that scientists do not know how to talk to non-scientists about their work, when they must all have neighbours, wives, boyfriends, children, and mates down the pub to whom they speak all the time.
16/03/04 Strategy for science
SBS today welcome the Government's consultation on the future of British science, but warned that until hard numbers are published about how much money is involved, it will be difficult to judge how effective the exercise will be.
06/03/04 Scientists' renumeration
SBS today called for a mature debate about the levels of pay for university lecturers and researchers. In a letter to the Education Guardian, SBS pointed out that commentators were wrong to suggest that modern academics had a cushy life, and that pay structures must match the realities of the competitive global marketplace for talent. The text of the letter is as follows:
Your correspondent paints a completely unrealistic picture of the workload of modern academics, who do not take every Friday off. Where he is correct is in his recognition that attracting staff is part of a market for the best brains, but he is mistaken in believing there are "dozens of applicants for every vacancy". In a Save British Science survey of deans of science, 57% said their institutions had left scientific posts unfilled because they could not attract candidates of the right calibre. We need a mature debate about academic pay, including a discussion of what is affordable from the public purse, what is a reasonable level of remuneration to keep pace with the international competition, and whether rigid national pay structures allow the flexibility for world-class teachers and researchers to be paid world-class salaries.
"We will be holding a Symposium in June on the subject of Attracting the Best into university science careers," said Professor Richard Joyner, Chairman of SBS, "and we are looking forward to taking part in a mature debate with Government Departments, universities and other interested parties."
06/03/04 Investment in science
SBS today highlighted the importance of investing in science if the economy is to thrive. In an interview on the BBC World Service, SBS pointed out that the UK has an excellent track record in scientific innovation, but that the world is a much more competitive place than it used to be. "As a result, we have to invest more to keep ahead of the game. The Government's recent announcement that it intends to have a long-term strategy for investing in science is a very good sign".
02/03/04 Investment in science
SBS today welcomed the Government's announcement of a 10-year plan for investment in science.
Speaking after attending a meeting at Number 11 Downing Street with the Chancellor and other Cabinet Ministers, SBS Director Peter Cotgreave said: "This really could be a genuine opportunity for a real push to ensure that the UK sustains a world-class science base"