The Liberal Democrats have adopted a policy calling for increased funding in science and research.
The policy, named ‘developing a future – policies for science and research’, calls on the Coalition Government to increase the already ring fenced science and research budget at a rate above inflation, and to make a commitment to this for the next 15 years; for there to be increased provision of science and maths education in schools and for a public system of income contingent loans for post graduate study.
Proposed by the Member of Parliament for Cambridge Julian Huppert, a former researcher at the University of Cambridge, the policy also encourages that immigration laws be revised so that “bona fide international students can continue to come to the UK to study, that the best and brightest can stay in the UK…after graduation, and that … academics, scientists and other chartered individuals (can be encouraged) to work and settle in the UK”
Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and former research scientist at the University of Cambridge, Julian Huppert said, “Despite low levels of funding, the UK has outperformed other countries, some which invest almost twice as much in research and development.
“There is clear evidence that government investment in research and development incentivises and creates the conditions for additional private sector investment.
“Today Liberal Democrats supported increased investment in science and research. We want to develop an education and training system to produce a highly-skilled workforce that supports research and innovation. Improving science and maths education in schools must be a priority if we are to inspire the next generation.
“We also need an immigration system that actively encourages top scientists and academics to come to the UK, otherwise they will go elsewhere.
“These proposals challenge the way the Government thinks about science, redirecting money to where it benefits the economy, improving our ability to attract the brightest minds and giving the next generation the skills they need to compete in an ever-changing world.”
Luke Newton, Education Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union commented, “I welcome the commitment the Liberal Democrats have made to provide a fair loans system for postgraduates; however given their record on promises to students I’m not ready to believe they’ll carry through on this pledge.”
Speaking to Times Higher Education, John Martin, a professor at University College London and Yale University, supported the motion though stated a wish that it had come sooner, feeling that the UK has “failed in its potential to produce wealth from science over the last 20 years”.