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Science Is Vital


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UK science funding has dropped below 0.5% of GDP to the lowest level for 20 years. We now spend less on R&D than almost every developed nation. Less than the Euro zone average, less than the OECD average, less than the EU-28, less than Russia, less than Italy, less than Slovenia, Portugal and Brazil, less even than Greece in GDP terms.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2015/mar/13/science-vital-uk-spending-research-gdp

 

There are 100,000s of researchers in the UK who supply double digit returns to the economy from the investment. Yet, we have very few scientists in government and not very much coverage of the issue in the mainstream media or by Labour and Conservatives In the run up to the election. Worse still, UK science is now the largest recipient of EU funding and UKIP are hardly the party of rationalists.

 

Do you care about new disease treatments, new technologies and high tech industrial jobs providing impetus to our continued economic growth?

 

Do you think science is vital or not?

 

How can we encourage our MPs and candidates to take science seriously?

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UK science funding has dropped below 0.5% of GDP to the lowest level for 20 years. We now spend less on R&D than almost every developed nation. Less than the Euro zone average, less than the OECD average, less than the EU-28, less than Russia, less than Italy, less than Slovenia, Portugal and Brazil, less even than Greece in GDP terms.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2015/mar/13/science-vital-uk-spending-research-gdp

 

There are 100,000s of researchers in the UK who supply double digit returns to the economy from the investment. Yet, we have very few scientists in government and not very much coverage of the issue in the mainstream media or by Labour and Conservatives In the run up to the election. Worse still, UK science is now the largest recipient of EU funding and UKIP are hardly the party of rationalists.

 

Do you care about new disease treatments, new technologies and high tech industrial jobs providing impetus to our continued economic growth?

 

Do you think science is vital or not?

 

How can we encourage our MPs and candidates to take science seriously?

 

Have you read the Geek Manifesto? In it the author suggests that if more people, who were interested in science, took an active part in politics than the politicians would take science more seriously.

 

He suggests that the amount of people that attend hustings is so low that the numbers needed wouldn't be that great for them to be able to have an influence.

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Do you care about new disease treatments, new technologies and high tech industrial jobs providing impetus to our continued economic growth?

 

Do you think science is vital or not?

 

How can we encourage our MPs and candidates to take science seriously?

 

There is loads of promotion for STEM careers in schools. However I do worry about the long term opportunities for students following these routes. As a science graduate I found there to be very little well paid work in this area of the country. Research work is often temporary and constant funding has to be reapplied for, as you state funding is getting harder to come by.

 

The question also has to be asked why study a 'hard' degree when other routes seem to pay better and have more secure or interesting job prospects and I clearly could see that my science degree required much more hours of study then others choices. Often science jobs are extremely specialised, which means people get stuck in one area and are at risk of losing a job without having a vast amount of other openings to go to, once the business goes abroad. I found most of my science mates left the area of science and work in other areas as companies recognize the skills of science students and will employ them in unrelated jobs.

If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth.If wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error JS Mill

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Have you read the Geek Manifesto? In it the author suggests that if more people, who were interested in science, took an active part in politics than the politicians would take science more seriously.

 

He suggests that the amount of people that attend hustings is so low that the numbers needed wouldn't be that great for them to be able to have an influence.

 

Indeed I have, a few years ago now. The author works at the same institution as I do. I think it's a good idea for scientists to be politically engaged although I really feel it shouldn't be necessary. My boss spends a great deal of time in Brussels at the European parliament talking to MEPs.

 

---------- Post added 14-03-2015 at 18:38 ----------

 

There is loads of promotion for STEM careers in schools. However I do worry about the long term opportunities for students following these routes. As a science graduate I found there to be very little well paid work in this area of the country. Research work is often temporary and constant funding has to be reapplied for, as you state funding is getting harder to come by.

 

The question also has to be asked why study a 'hard' degree when other routes seem to pay better and have more secure or interesting job prospects and I clearly could see that my science degree required much more hours of study then others choices. Often science jobs are extremely specialised, which means people get stuck in one area and are at risk of losing a job without having a vast amount of other openings to go to, once the business goes abroad. I found most of my science mates left the area of science and work in other areas as companies recognize the skills of science students and will employ them in unrelated jobs.

 

I totally agree. Research is a very hard career. I also think there is a certain duplicity among politicians who say we need more STEM graduates, make promises of investment and then fail to deliver.

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Indeed I have, a few years ago now. The author works at the same institution as I do. I think it's a good idea for scientists to be politically engaged although I really feel it shouldn't be necessary. My boss spends a great deal of time in Brussels at the European parliament talking to MEPs.

 

---------- Post added 14-03-2015 at 18:38 ----------

 

 

I totally agree. Research is a very hard career. I also think there is a certain duplicity among politicians who say we need more STEM graduates, make promises of investment and then fail to deliver.

 

With the world becoming ever smaller does it matter what country A or country B put up in public money? I know hardly anyone in that field but the ones I do, most of them up sticks and worked abroad for much more money and those that did stay here work (as far as I know - it's been a few years) for big pharma. But who ever makes a big scientific or medical research discovery makes it known around the world pretty quickly, and as we're still a wealthy country we still benefit from the results. Does it matter in the bigger scheme of things if me dip out of a round for a spell?

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With the world becoming ever smaller does it matter what country A or country B put up in public money? I know hardly anyone in that field but the ones I do, most of them up sticks and worked abroad for much more money and those that did stay here work (as far as I know - it's been a few years) for big pharma. But who ever makes a big scientific or medical research discovery makes it known around the world pretty quickly, and as we're still a wealthy country we still benefit from the results. Does it matter in the bigger scheme of things if me dip out of a round for a spell?

 

Does it matter that our most talented scientists move abroad? Does it matter if discoveries are made in the UK? Yes, it matters for UK Plc. We won't be able to afford to import every technology if we aren't also making new products that we can sell.

 

It will also have a long term detrimental impact on our private and public sectors from food technology, to computing and car manufacturing because once those skills are gone, they're gone for good.

 

At least 10000 jobs have been lost in pharma in the last few years. Many of them abroad, and partly due to the lack of public funds. Pharma won't invest where the government won't.

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Scientists who do science are a very small group.

By nature they will follow the opportunities and resources.

British Universities pay more than most and reputations are made here.

But our proper universities do not get the generous donations some get in the States and are woefully under resourced.

 

People mistake the need for Scientists who's research and understanding is vital to support and sustain human changes and science trained graduates who are essential not for their knowledge but for their skills.

 

The vast majority of graduates with proper science degrees taken at proper universities will get better paid jobs than those without.

They will also have a better choice.

 

They also know that research is never well paid and has few opportunities.

 

They will use their science degrees in all areas of work bringing in their skills but not necessarily their knowledge.

 

One group of flatmates who were chemistry graduates from a Red Brick:

railway timetabler

parkie -by choice

parent working from home-by choice

appears on the credits of a soap

publishing and media

patent agent

technical translator

Edited by Annie Bynnol
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With the world becoming ever smaller does it matter what country A or country B put up in public money? I know hardly anyone in that field but the ones I do, most of them up sticks and worked abroad for much more money and those that did stay here work (as far as I know - it's been a few years) for big pharma. But who ever makes a big scientific or medical research discovery makes it known around the world pretty quickly, and as we're still a wealthy country we still benefit from the results. Does it matter in the bigger scheme of things if me dip out of a round for a spell?

 

Similarly a lot of scientists move to the UK because opportunity and reputation-gainability (yes I know) are far greater here. But the UK is under increasing pressure and Biotechpete is right, it is not being addressed appropriately. As a Dutch academic I moved here for the reasons mentioned, but it is quickly tilting back in the favour of Dutch universities, despite massive cuts to the budget in the Netherlands, because they are actively recruiting academics to come back.

 

In my time at the University of Sheffield (2008-2010) as researcher I have witnessed the biggest talents being poached by either Australian or American universities and the brightest Middle-Eastern and Chinese PhDs choosing not to stay here but move back to their home countries.

 

If I chose to move to China this summer I would live twice as well as I would live here if it weren't for my wife.

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UK science funding has dropped below 0.5% of GDP to the lowest level for 20 years. We now spend less on R&D than almost every developed nation. Less than the Euro zone average, less than the OECD average, less than the EU-28, less than Russia, less than Italy, less than Slovenia, Portugal and Brazil, less even than Greece in GDP terms.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/science/occams-corner/2015/mar/13/science-vital-uk-spending-research-gdp

 

There are 100,000s of researchers in the UK who supply double digit returns to the economy from the investment. Yet, we have very few scientists in government and not very much coverage of the issue in the mainstream media or by Labour and Conservatives In the run up to the election. Worse still, UK science is now the largest recipient of EU funding and UKIP are hardly the party of rationalists.

 

Do you care about new disease treatments, new technologies and high tech industrial jobs providing impetus to our continued economic growth?

 

Do you think science is vital or not?

 

How can we encourage our MPs and candidates to take science seriously?

 

Science is essential. More than that, it's cool to be a geek these days. :cool:

 

---------- Post added 14-03-2015 at 19:45 ----------

 

It would be a shame if we continue to lose our best talent to other countries. I also heard somewhere we are lagging well behind in school science, english and even maths subjects across the board (yes, apparently Finland are better at English) so the future isn't looking bright.

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Does it matter that our most talented scientists move abroad? Does it matter if discoveries are made in the UK? Yes, it matters for UK Plc. We won't be able to afford to import every technology if we aren't also making new products that we can sell.

 

It will also have a long term detrimental impact on our private and public sectors from food technology, to computing and car manufacturing because once those skills are gone, they're gone for good.

 

At least 10000 jobs have been lost in pharma in the last few years. Many of them abroad, and partly due to the lack of public funds. Pharma won't invest where the government won't.

 

All very good points and I don't disagree with any of them particularly given my overall lack of knowledge on the subject! I think it's alludes to a thread I started earlier in the week - successive governments don't want to push for anything new or exciting. The best the current lot can offer is a "new" train line that can just about keep up with a 50 year old Japanese one.

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