BBC: Vince signals science funding cuts

by Stephen Tall on September 8, 2010

The BBC reports:

Business Secretary Vince Cable is expected to signal a squeeze on public funding for scientific research. He will urge universities to do “more for less” and say taxpayers should only back research that has a commercial use or was academically outstanding.

Mr Cable’s London audience will be told the government “values” UK science and research and spends £4.3bn a year. Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, said cutting science funding would be a false economy. Mr Cable’s speech comes ahead of next month’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which is likely to squeeze resources.

Well, these are the realities of the cuts — and exactly the kind of cuts that would be necessary whichever party found itself in power right now. Polls indicate the public accepts the Coalition’s arguments for immediate measures to cut the deficit, but so far this has been in the abstract. We can be sure that Lord Rees’s pleas are repeated by all groups who feel passionately their interest area should be ring-fenced, and that cuts in their area are a ‘false economy’. The Comprehensive Spending Review will mark the moment when the Coalition has to move beyond the ‘in principle’ arguments for cuts, and start defending the ‘in practise’ reality.