As you are probably aware, concerns are growing about the current government’s funding policy (details below). Funding for science and engineering in the UK is under serious threat. We, the research community, can help campaign against this trend, for example by supporting Science is Vital (SiV).
SiV has grown into a well-respected grassroots organisation composed of scientists and supporters of science and research in the UK, chaired by Dr Jennifer Rohn (UCL), Stephen Curry (Imperial) and Andrew Steele (Francis Crick Inst.). SiV was formed in 2010 as a response to the previous government’s proposed cuts to science, and the group remains a key advocate for increasing investment in science. Their particular strength is in enabling the thousands of voices of the research community to be heard. They also work closely with the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) and with the major learned societies in coordinating campaign activities.
Back in 2010, SiV helped to fight off the threat of cuts and secure a flat-cash ring-fenced budget for science. It has been a tough five years. Inflation has eroded that settlement and the UK’s public investment in science has declined to 0.44% of GDP, the lowest of any G8 country in the last 20 years. Now that the UK is pulling out of recession, George Osborne and BIS have told the research councils to model cuts of 25 to 40% instead of planning to reverse the decline in the R&D budget. If we are to influence key decisions being finalised for the November Comprehensive Spending Review, we urgently need to raise awareness of the damage that further cuts would inflict on UK science.
To make a difference, you can support the SiV campaign as well as help spread the word about it. The more people get involved, the greater the chance that we can stave off damaging cuts to the research budget in the next spending review. Some possibilities:
- A postcard campaign informing George Osborne why science is vital. You can submit your postcard content online.
- Get tickets for a rally at Conway Hall in central London from 7-9 PM on 26 October, which will be live-streamed to similar gatherings across the UK. Confirmed guests so far include Jim Al-Khalili, Uta Frith FRS, Simon Singh, Lucie Green; Mark Miodownik, Helen Arney, James Wilsdon and Adam Rutherford.
- For local rallies and activities please see here.
Certainly, the importance of fundamental science can and must not be underrated, and the current White House campaign in favour of basic research seems to take a very different few from that of George Osborne.