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.