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Science underpins much of what we value but take for granted in society.

Investment in science is essential for advanced societies competing in a globalised world and is too important to be left to short-term market interests alone. Long-term public sector investment is vital for a variety of reasons, including:

  • to generate new knowledge, some of which may have commercial potential;
  • to provide ideas and inspiration for all;
  • to support strategic and innovative research that the market doesn’t provide;
  • to train a skilled workforce;
  • to sustain a critical mass of activity and expertise in key areas (e.g. taxonomy) which the private sector does not supply;
  • to nurture multi- and interdisciplinary research;
  • to inform public policy and risk assessments;
  • to meet our international obligations,
  • to create and maintain long-term datasets.

The higher education sector will be significantly affected by cuts in funding. In this context it is vital that there is adequate support for teaching within the sciences, including biology, where costs are justifiably high.  Clear understanding and recognition of the costs of delivering high quality programmes is needed and it is vital that quality is not compromised. We believe that an explicit link between quality of provision and funding incentives is important.

In December 2014, the Government announced their Science and Innovation Strategy. This document sets out the Government’s long term vision to make the UK the best place in the world for science and business.It sets out investment of £5.9bn into the UK's research infrastructure from 2016-2021. £3bn will support capital expenditure, the money going into laboratory infrastructure, and another £2.9bn will go towards supporting scientific 'Grand Challenges, which will enable the UK to invest in major research facilities of national significance.'The document also outlines five key principles that it says should underpin science policy over the next few years: excellence, agility, collaboration, place and openness.

The Royal Society of Biology closely follows teaching and research funding. For more information on the work of our Education Policy team, including Higher Education teaching and research funding, please visit our Higher Education pages.

Relevant Consultation Responses

Society of Biology response to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills consultation on a Science & Innovation Strategy
05 August 2014
The Society responded to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills inquiry on the Science & Innovation Strategy, which aimed to coincide with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2014. We asked for a strategy which is long-term, inclusive and skills-focussed, and supports the business environment in the UK.

Society of Biology response to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills consultation on the Proposals for long term Capital Investment in Science and Research
07 July 2014
The Society responded to the consultation on Capital Investment in Science, highlighting the need for a mixed portfolio of investment which is researcher-led and supported by funding for training, upkeep and resources.

Science Council response to the House of Lords Science & Technology Select Committee inquiry on Scientific Infrastructure
24 June 2013
The Society of Biology collaborated with the Science Council on the inquiry on scientific infrastructure. the response highlights the importance of developing and nurturing a skills infrastructure to complement investment in physical scientific infrastructure and the need for the UK to be strong contributor to international scientific infrastructure programmes.

Society of Biology views on Key Priorities and Challenges for the Science and Research Budget
23 May 2013
The Society of Biology responded to a call for views from the Director General, Knowledge and Innovation at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on the key priorities and challenges for the science and research budget ahead of the 2013 comprehensive spending review. The response highlights the importance of public funding as a key driver for business and charitable investment in science, and asks that investment in research and development is stablised and grown in order to ensure the future of the UK's impressive and productive science R & D sector.

Society of Biology response to the consultation on Public - Private Partnerships under Horizon 2020
04 October 2012
The Society of Biology have responded to the public consultation in the context of the Impact Assessment on plans for a public-private partnership (PPP) in life sciences research and innovation under Horizon 2020.

Society of Biology response to the HEFCE consultation on teaching funding and student number controls for 2013/14 and beyond
28 May 2012
A response from the Society of Biology to the HEFCE consultation on teaching funding and student number controls for 2013/14 and beyond.

HEFCE review of the teaching funding method
12 July 2010
A response from the Society of Biology to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) review of the teaching funding method: Consultation on key principles and features.

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