Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Science Council


  The Science Council, which counts amongst its members 18 professional scientific bodies and learned societies, is pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's inquiry into Government Funding of Scientific Learned Societies.

  The Science Council acts as an independent co-ordinating body for organisations representing professional scientists in UK. Its purpose is to promote the collective knowledge, resources and achievements of its constituent professional bodies and learned societies. The activities of the Science Council reflect the commitment of its constituent bodies to serve the public interest as encompassed in their charters and charitable objectives.

  Neither the Science Council nor its constituent members receive designated core funding from government although most benefit from grants for specific projects or public engagement activities. While there is a view that a small proportion of the science funding might be allocated among scientific learned societies to enable them to expand the excellent work they undertake, the majority value their independence and would not argue for any major changes in the government funding structure.

  The Science Council has strong and valued links with the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. We consider that the use of their funds to support research in universities, to communicate the benefits of science programmes and to advise government on major issues involving science is appropriate and relevant. With concern about sufficient supply of scientists and engineers for the future of the UK economy, we appreciate the importance of the RS and RAEng efforts help to encourage good young scientists and engineers to develop a secure career and to stay in research and development in UK. We would encourage them to expand their links with the professional science, technology and engineering community and to take a more global perspective. Science and engineering play an increasingly important part in everyday living so strong, reliable sources of independent advice to government must be maintained.

  The Learned Societies also have extensive resources of knowledge and expertise that they are keen to share for the public good and we would urge Government to make greater use of these resources, either through the Science Council or directly with the Institutes and Learned Societies for advice on their specific scientific areas. The breadth of these independent sources of advice to government would enhance and complement that obtainable from the government-funded bodies. The Science Council also seeks a strong future for science education for future scientists and for greater scientific awareness in the population at large and would welcome the opportunity to provide advice and expertise in these areas.

April 2002

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