27/07/04 Private investment in R&D
26/07/04 Science in Europe
20/07/04 Scientific publishing
SBS today warmly welcomed the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee's report on the market in scientific publishing. "What really matters is the competitive market in ideas," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS, "That's how science works - by different ideas competing in a marketplace, until some prove stronger than others. The Committee has correctly identified that current publishing practices have some serious defects, and have set out some options for discussion. Not only the publishers, but the academic community and the Government funding agencies are going to have to get involved in a major debate about the best way to ensure the future market in scientific ideas".
16/07/04 Ten-year plan for science
SBS today highlighted some of the problems and some of the advantages of the Government's ten year plan for science. In an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement, SBS points out that although there are many positive points in the ten-year framework, there are also some worrying aspects. For example, the section on managing the research base calls for an "integrated and efficient performance management system. SBS argues that "that may sound rather exciting to whoever wrote it, but it will make the room suddenly feel very cold to those creative researchers who thought the research councils were supposed to be dedicated to funding exciting scientific proposals".
12/07/04 Spending Review
SBS today welcomed the Chancellor's Spending Review and Framework for science, but warned that the detailed plans will still mean there is a long way to go before British science is saved.
Ahead of today's public spending review, SBS highlighted the problems of science in schools. In interviews with The Times and BBC Radio 5 Live, focusing on SBS's survey of science teachers, SBS points out that practical classes - a crucial part of any science education - are being cancelled in three quarters of schools. In more than half the schools, one of the reasons given for abandoning practicals was pupils' behaviour. "We were astonished that the main reason for cancelling practical classes was behavioural problems. To be honest, we expected complaints about equipment and lack of staff, but the single biggest thing we encountered was that naughty children are not trusted with laboratory equipment," said Rosemary Davies of SBS, who conducted the survey.
10/07/04 Spending Review
SBS today outlined some of the important areas that must receive funding in the Chancellor's spending review if British science is to thrive. In an interview on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, SBS pointed out that the state of science in schools is in a parlous state, with poor laboratories and a lack of well-qualified teachers. In addition, drawing on a report published last week SBS highlighted that some research positions in the public sector need substantial pay rises if research is to be seen as a competitive career for bright youngsters.
"The UK has already signed up to a target of investing 3% of the nation's wealth in research and development," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS, "so the news that the Treasury is talking about a long-term aim of investing 2.5% does not sound nearly ambitious enough".
09/07/04 Spending Review
SBS today warned that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his spending review on Monday, the figures will need to be examined carefully rather than taken at face value. In an interview in the Financial Times, SBS Director Peter Cotgreave says: "If they talk about doubling the science budget, people will assume that means doubling government spending on science. But it may not be so generous in reality. Other departments science spending - particularly what the Department for Education & Skills spends through the higher education funding council on universities' research infrastructure - must keep pace."
05/07/04 Recruitment and retention
SBS today published a report showing that £250 million per year is needed to tackle the market failure in university science researchers. Based on a discussions held at a symposium last month, the report presents a well-argued case for the new money, and gives detailed proposals about how it should be used.
“With all the new infrastructure we are getting, British science has the potential to deliver substantial benefits for the British taxpayer,” said Richard Joyner, Chairman of SBS, “but unless we tackle the problems of recruiting and retaining the best researchers, we are in danger of not getting the maximum value out of the investment we have already made.”