When Lord John Krebs, chairman of the Lords’ Science and Technology committee in the UK, warned that cutting science funding could lead to a “brain drain,” many in the government and media accused him of “crying wolf,” says University of Sheffield vice-chancellor Keith Burnett in the New Scientist. But Krebs and others like him, who say science should be a priority, are worried about the effect of a science drain on the future of the UK, Burnett says. “Jobs are created by growth in the science- and engineering-based industries that funding drives. Moreover, our research, the work funded by the science vote, is made up by a great many students working at the cutting edge of technology,” he says. Cutting science funding now would be reminiscent of the 1970s, when many scientists left the UK for the US, which was investing heavily in research at the time, Burnett adds. “I might never have come back, other than for a ‘new blood’ scheme introduced by the then Conservative government,” he says. The science “renaissance” that followed in Britain showed that ongoing support is required if the UK is to retain its place in the world as “a home of international hubs of global excellence working on the great challenges of our time,” Burnett says.
History Repeats Itself
Sep 28, 2010