UK Science Budget and Physics Review

11 December 2007

Responding to today's government announcement on science and research budget allocations, Director General of The Russell Group, Dr Wendy Piatt, said:

"The Russell Group welcomes the government's continued support of the UK's internationally renowned research base. The increase of 17.4% to the science budget along with a 17.7% increase to recurrent research funding from HEFCE from 2008-09 to 2010-11, are both essential for supporting the cutting-edge research being undertaken within our universities.

"Today's announcement sends a clear and positive signal about the UK's commitment to world class research and development and the crucial role that our research-intensive universities play in the economy and the UK.

"The government's investment has placed the United Kingdom at the forefront of pioneering new technology. Most recently this funding has allowed for breakthroughs at Russell Group Universities in discoveries of new hydrogen energy, genetic mapping of Alzheimer's disease and new discoveries of the use of nanotechnology for cellular biology, to name a few.  The Russell Group welcomes the £1.3 billion to be invested in cross-council, multi-disciplinary research programmes aimed at tackling major issues facing people in the world today.

"However, we are concerned about STFC's projected future deficit and the possible impact this could have on crucial physics research in the UK. We recognise the 13.6% increase in their budget to 2010-11 but there are projected costs that outweigh this allocation and we are concerned that some projects may be jeopardised. The importance of physics-based sectors to the economy should not be under-estimated; they account for 24% of total UK R&D expenditure and almost a third of UK exports and contribute £70 billion to national GDP so it is essential that they are given the optimum level of government support. Our over-riding concern is for the future health of what is already classified a strategic and vulnerable subject.

"In light of our concerns, we are encouraged by the appointment of Professor Wakeham, Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton, and a member of the Russell Group, to chair a review of the future of physics and to consider in a broader context how government can best support Physics research."

Note to Editors

  1. In many Russell Group universities, STFC funding accounts for 30% and upwards of departmental budgets in a range of subject areas such as physics, astronomy and applied mathematics. In some highly-focussed research departments, STFC funding accounts for over 80% of grant income.

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