Science Is Vital

Today, Vince Cable gave a speech that, pretty much, confirmed what all those involved in science and research, were already expecting to hear.  Science: expect some cuts!! Ok, but how much and where?  Well, what we do know is that the department for Business, Innovation and Skills needs to make at least a massive 25% cut.  If this was to happen in science funding, this would take our, already meager, allocated amount of £3.2 billion down to £2.4 billion.  Cable also explained, as quoted from this article in today’s Guardian:

….there is no justification for taxpayers’ money being used to support research which is neither commercially useful nor theoretically outstanding. My preference is to ration research funding by excellence. We back researchers and research teams of international quality regardless of where they are and what they do, and screen out mediocrity.

Ok, so extra brownie points for dropping those “buzz-words” that target all those non-scientists among us….”Tax-payers’ money”, yeah everyone can connect with that!!  But, one crucial point here: who gets to decide on which research falls into the categories of “commercially useful” and “theoretically outstanding”?

Another important point to address is that no other country, despite suffering from a shared financial crisis, seems to consider cuts in science as an option.  For a great account of the comparisons in opinions, see this write-up, for some great points about why Vince Cable is misunderstanding the fundamental concept, see this blog and for how we should judge Vince Cable see this article.

Science is at the forefront of bringing money into the economy, by cutting funding and pulling the UK out of important projects such as Diamond Light Source, Isis and Cern this has detrimental effects both short and long-term!!  We could lose a whole generation of science researchers (which slashes my PhD dream) and international interest in the UK would be drastically reduced, thus losing out on even more capital!!

Something needs to be done, as Dr Evan Harris points out in this article.  We can’t just sit back and let this happen without trying to revoke it.

This afternoon, Jenny Rohn set up a “call-to-arms” post here in an attempt to get our important message heard.  Are you with us?  If so, here’s what you can do:

  • please leave comments below or on Jenny’s post (linked to above)
  • follow @ScienceIsVital on twitter for news about the protest
  • email either of us (Jenny:  [or]  Della: if you have any advice, useful contacts or you want to know how you can help to get this moving
  • please retweet or forward the link to this blogpost (we’d really appreciate it)
  • please join the Science is Vital Facebook group (here).

If you do have a twitter account and want to get involved, please use the hashtag #ScienceIsVital

Thank you!!

Come on people, let’s do this – get in touch!!

11 Responses to “Science Is Vital”
  1. rpg says:

    Thanks for helping spread the word!

    I’m getting quite riled up about this. A demo would be awesome.

  2. AdamR says:


    With £42Billion per year being spent on deficit interest alone, recent surveys by the likes of the BBC suggest that most people agree that the deficit must be dealt with…
    …as long as it doesn’t affect them.

    If the economy isn’t dealt with now now cuts in science funding (and elsewhere) in the future will be far worse.

    Rants and marches help no-one. How about some proactive suggestions rather than militant, reactionary ones?

  3. rpg says:

    “If the economy isn’t dealt with now now cuts in science funding (and elsewhere) in the future will be far worse.”

    Logical fail right there. The argument we’re making is that that cutting science funding will make things *worse* in the future. In other words, you have to invest to reap any benefits: science is the engine of economic recovery.

  4. AdamR says:

    I agree with your point; you certainly need to invest. I don’t think the government is planning on cutting science funding completely, only reducing it in the short term, as they are doing across the economy.

    Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury to carry on spending. Savings must be made.
    Why should science funding be an exceptional case?

    Science may be the engine of economic recovery (construction and education sectors argue the same); it also needs a strong economy to fund it.

    Chicken and egg?

    How about we take the unpleasant tasting pill now and help share the burden with the rest of the public sector.

    • rpg says:

      Y’see, I’m not entirely convinced that won’t make things worse in the long run. How about cutting civil servants and raising income tax, for a start?

      • AdamR says:

        Cutting civil servants, quangoes etc. definitely, but it really only scratches the surface when it comes to paying back the deficit – remember this is £42Billion per year in interest alone. The actual structural deficit is approx. £165Billion just for this year.
        Putting up taxes, if the government could get away with it, would contribute but there would be riots on the streets.
        The only way is to make public spending savings. My argument is that this should be shared across the whole economy; I don’t think there should be any sacred cows, after all if science funding was spared some other sector would be hit harder.
        Its a sorry situation.

      • dellybean says:

        I’m a little concerned with this opinion of yours: ” [the cuts]…should be shared across the whole economy; I don’t think there should be any sacred cows….” The reason I am concerned about this is because this issue does not have a “one-size-fits-all” solution, as not all divisions/sectors are equally profitable for the economy. No disrespect to you Adam, but, surely it is obvious that if one group can make more money than another (and quicker), then the money-maker is favourably prioritised to get us out of the deficit more rapidly. What is the point in reducing the beneficial outcome of a very strong candidate for the country’s speedy recovery from all this? This sector needs support, to be encouraged to thrive, be pushed to the limits and put at the forefront of the campaign. In case you missed the points on why science is so important for the economy, why not browse over the Scientific Century Report which you can download from this link: (paying particular attention to pages 9-13 which cover “Investing for Growth” and “The Value of Science” and pages 38-39 which cover “Attracting Investment” and “Threats to the UK as a Hub For International Science”) and then, show me any other report which thoroughly convinces how all sectors show an equal value? Science Is Vital!!

  5. AdamR says:

    Of course what you say is correct; “not all divisions/sectors are equally profitable for the economy”.

    While it may sound…

    “obvious that if one group can make more money than another (and quicker), then the money-maker is favourably prioritised to get us out of the deficit more rapidly ”

    that would be an extremely right wing and unacceptable approach. Following that to its conclusion the NHS budgets would be cut while construction budgets would be ring-fenced or even increased. I don’t think you can argue that investment in science can contribute to the economy faster than investment in construction. Indeed, your own arguement could result in science funding being cut even further to the benefit of Construction.

    Clearly this approach would be very unfair to some sectors.

    I completely agree with you about the need for investment in science, but Science needs to shoulder some of the
    present burden with everyone else.

    • dellybean says:

      You said yourself: “It’s a sorry situation” so by disagreeing with why science is vital, it almost contradicts your argument for (what seems like) doing what’s best, however, when faced with a great option of pushing science forward to help the economy, it’s “unacceptable”!? I’m not promoting science just because I’m a scientist and I like it, I’m pushing it because the evidence is there to show that while providing the country with profitable income, science maintains the UK’s record of excellence, which attracts further overseas investors and continues to drive this country out of the deficit. If construction, or any other sector, proves to be *this* beneficial then I believe they have a strong argument also. Do you have as strong an argument for construction as, proven with evidence, the benefits of science funding for the economy? Honestly, I’m genuinely interested because of you mentioned that “[my]…argument could result in science funding being cut even further to the benefit of Construction.”

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  1. […] Science is vital at deallybean diary […]

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