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Fresh broadsides against UK science cuts

Richard Pike head+shoulders landscape_tcm18-135826.JPGContinuing the pre-emptive strike by British scientists against forthcoming research budget cuts, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) today released a report commissioned to estimate the value of chemistry research to the UK economy.

The report, by consultancy Oxford Economics, pins a value on the contribution made by industries ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ of chemistry research, and comes up with a figure of £258 billion for the year 2007 – equivalent to 21% of GDP. Science Minister David Willetts responded to the report with a statement praising research, but conspicuously avoiding the issue of the likely cuts.

Richard Pike, chief executive of the RSC says the report "sends a clear message that it is essential for us to invest, and invest significantly, in the continued development of the skills pipeline, from schools to university and beyond”.

Meanwhile, Science is Vital – a campaigning group started by University College London cell biologist Jenny Rohn – is organising a protest march through London on 9 October to accompany its petition. Their Facebook group currently has around 2,900 members – and climbing.

These moves follow a letter to Willetts last Thursday from the House of Lords science and technology committee warning that the impending cuts are already leading to ‘brain drain’, and a press conference on Friday where Lord Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, joined five heads of prominent UK universities to champion British research.

Decisions about where the axe will fall are likely to be made by the government ‘very soon’ according to the BBC.

Image: Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry


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