Science and technology spending cuts inquiry announced

15 January 2010

With concerns growing about the effects of cuts in public spending on science, engineering and technology (SET), the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has announced an inquiry examining the impact of spending cuts on SET and scientific research.

The Committee invites written submissions from interested parties on any of the issues, to be received by midday on Wednesday 27 January.

The Committee is interested in the following issues:

  • the process for deciding where to make cuts in SET spending
  • what evidence there is on the feasibility or effectiveness of estimating the economic impact of research, both from a historical perspective (for QR funding) and looking to the future (for Research Council grants)
  • the differential effect of cuts on demand-led and research institutions
  • the implications and effects of the announced Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) budget cuts
  • the scope of the STFC review announced on 16 December and currently underway
  • the operation and definition of the science budget ring-fence, and consideration of whether there should be a similar ring-fence for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) research budget and departmental research budgets
  • whether the Government is achieving the objectives it set out in the 'Science and innovation investment framework 2004–2014: next steps', including, for example, making progress on the supply of high quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates to achieve its overall ambitions for UK science and innovation
  • whether the extra student support, which the Government announced on 20 July 2009 for 10,000 higher education places, delivered students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses
  • the effect of HEFCE cuts on the 'unit of funding' for STEM students

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