RAS welcomes protection of science budget
The Royal Astronomical Society has given a cautious welcome to today’s announcement that the science budget will be protected in real terms until 2020. In the Spending Review presented by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the government set out plans to grow the budget by £500m over that period from its current total of £4.7 billion.
There were other positive announcements on loans for Masters courses, which will be available to students up to the age of 60, a change the RAS argued for in a consultation earlier this year; protection of funding for teaching of high cost subjects in universities; and for science subjects a removal of the ‘equivalent or lower qualification’ rule which prevented students from accessing loans if they already had an undergraduate degree.
The announced budget includes a total of £1.5bn over five years (£300m per annum) for a new Global Challenges Fund, and the Society will be looking at the details of this to ensure that it does not have a negative impact on existing research funding.
Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “The RAS has been very much part of the campaign by the scientific community to secure a decent budget settlement. Today’s announcement shows the welcome commitment of the UK government to science and engineering."
“We note though that the total spend in GDP terms is some way below what our competitor nations invest – and still falling - and we will wait to see how the new budget framework affects funds for astronomy and geophysics."
“That said, I know that science has done well today, in what was a tough spending review, and am grateful to the government for continuing to support our world-class research base.”