Looming cuts to science and students

Also at the Guardian.

Haven’t we been here before? Of course we have, and we will be here again. Time for Batman to return.

The department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), responsible for funding research Councils and Universities in the UK, is struggling to deal with big budget cuts, and leaked documents reveal something about the devastating options being discussed, even while the Government says good things about the importance of science for the future and claims the economy is recovering.

Given that as recently as last Tuesday George Osborne was celebrating great British science with Peter Higgs at the Science Museum, surely this must be the scene in Whitehall right now?


On the other hand, while science has been protected from big cuts so far, it has been suffering the erosion of inflation year-on-year as it struggles within a “flat cash” budget. Assuming inflation at about 2.5%, the accumulated cuts are already heading for about 13% in real terms since 2010, and this was after big cuts in some areas by Labour just before that. Perhaps the treasury doesn’t realise this? Perhaps the scene is more like this one:


Who knows? Perhaps this is all leaking, posturing and expectation management so far. So maybe we should get used to low expectations, whatever the rhetoric. But it is  worrying and depressing that we are still arguing about cuts rather than what size of increased investment would be prudent. What is the vision for the future? Is there one?

Or maybe that’s a stupid question?

Images generated by http://thomashunter.name/batman/


About Jon Butterworth

UCL Physics prof, works on LHC, writes (books, Cosmic Shambles and elsewhere). Citizen of England, UK, Europe & Nowhere, apparently.
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