£4.2bn cuts to the Universities?

Great Hall before BUAFTAs night

Image by Nickster 2000 via Flickr

So it came to pass that the £4.2bn cut didn’t happen – whether it was on the cards, or was an erroneous leak, who can say. But this post isn’t going to be deleted – just left in place as a monument to a jerking-knee and as a constant reminder about Cameron’s pledge to science…

A quick and hopefully not too ranty post in which I point out that David Cameron is a liar.

The great hall of Birmingham University is quite an imposing place. It is where I sat my final biochemistry exam and where my graduation was held in 2000.


It was also chosen as the venue for the 3rd and final election debate for the 2010 UK general election. On the 29th of April this year, the leaders of the three political parties answered a variety of questions on the public finances, education and business.

During this exchange, David Cameron responded to a question regarding the rebuilding of the manufacturing industry in the UK as follows:

“Let’s start with investing in our science base and making sure great universities like this are producing the scientists and entrepreneurs of the future.”

And despite these fine and (dare I say), wholly sensible words, today it has been revealed that the UK university and science sectors will have their budgets slashed by an amazing £4.2bn.

This is most certainly not investing in our science base.

This is destroying it.

As the Science is Vital campaign has been so good at pointing out, a supply of well trained graduates and the maintenance of world class centres of research and innovation are essential for the continued existence of STEM-based industries within the UK economy, which account for roughly 40% of our GDP.

This is a huge backwards step which will do nothing for the UK economy – the short term gain by saving £4.2bn will translate into long term pain, as STEM-based industries desert the United Kingdom for countries like the US, Canada, Germany, etc which have the presence and forethought to maintain investment in their universities and research institutes.

I am afraid that I don’t have the literary legerdemain to describe how annoyed, frustrated and depressed I am about this without descending into a tirade of profanity.

9 Responses to £4.2bn cuts to the Universities?

  1. JDM says:

    “I am afraid that I don’t have the literary legerdemain”

    Oh, I don’t know about that. You made me look legerdemain up…

  2. Kash Farooq says:

    It shouldn’t surprise us, but it still does.

    Pre-election statements are crafted *just* to gain the most votes. They know they have no intention of keeping their promises once they are government.

    A lot of LibDem votes were cast due to their stance on science. Sadly, they appear to have no influence in the coalition (or that stance was just a pack of lies too).

    All very depressing.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill Wilkinson, Bill Wilkinson, Mark J. Fogg, Kash Farooq, Ceehaitch and others. Ceehaitch said: £4.2bn cuts to the Universities?: http://t.co/Ia5lCIj […]

  4. Iain says:

    I know that it’s not your primary concern, but spare a thought for the humanities as well. This move is an attack on public education across the board; to this extent, concentrating on the money generated by any one area or discipline misses the point. Education is a public good in its own right. Granted, it has an economic value, but it doesn’t follow from that that its economic value is the whole story…

    • xtaldave says:

      You are of course right Iain. My focus is going to be science, but yes – this an (unprecedented?) attack on the higher education sector as a whole. We are all in this together, something I think scientists tend to overlook all-too easily.

      Our only hope is that the LibDems see sense and vote down parts of the spending review that will hobble higher education. If that is even possible… will the CSR cuts & recommendations be put to a vote?

  5. Alex says:

    If they cut funding for all the worthless degrees where people are trained more to be alcoholics than professionals, then surely we’d have enough left not to write Britain’s enviable global position in scientific research off.

    • xtaldave says:

      I think that it’s fair to say that there _is_ some fat in the university sector that can be trimmed – not 75%+ though.

      However, the UK government.let vodaphone off a £6bn tax avoidance bill… claw that back and the unis and science don’t have to suffer…

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