Memorandum submitted by the Royal Society
The Royal Society of Chemistry is the largest
of the scientific societies with a membership of 46,000. It is
both a learned society and a professional body. The RSC was formed
in 1980 following a series of amalgamations. It is incorporated
by Royal Charter and is a registered Charity. A separate memorandum
describing the activities of the RSC is attached.
2. ADVICE TO
2.1 The RSC is charged by its Charter to:
" . . . to serve the public interest by
acting in an advisory, consultative and representative capacity
in matters relating to the science and practice of chemistry".
It is uniquely placed to do so as it draws its membership from
all branches of the discipline and across the full spectrum of
professional practice. Its members are individual scientists.
The RSC has no corporate members, nor is it permitted to act on
behalf of members as a trades union.
2.2 The RSC provides advice and information
to Parliamentarians in both Houses and of all parties through
its Parliamentary Affairs Officer who operates a scheme that links
Members of Parliament to RSC members resident in their constituencies
(The Parliamentary Link Scheme) and also organises major scientific
events in Parliament on behalf of the scientific and engineering
community as a whole. Similar embryonic schemes are underway for
the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly in Wales. The RSC
also provides expert advice to both of these bodies and hopes
to extend this to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The RSC makes
formal submissions to Government Departments and Agencies, provides
members to serve on expert groups and gives informal advice through
contacts between RSC staff and government officials.
2.3 The RSC formulates its advice through
networks of members with relevant expertise and its own information
gathering. Members expect the RSC to provide information and advice
and to do so without bias. The RSC's Council and governance structure
provides quality assurance in this regard.
3. PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING
3.1 The RSC's contribution to Public Understanding
of Science pre-dates Science Week: the RSC has been promoting
science with the public for many years: it has run Chemistry Week
biennially since the early 1980s. These weeks consist of events
that bring our members, and others in the chemical community into
contact with the public through lectures, demonstrations, media
events and visits. The RSC supports Science Week with local activities
and is supporting Science Year. Through its members the RSC regularly
provides information and activities for the public on topical
science issues. Our nationwide programme of Chemical Landmarks
celebrates the historical chemical events that have occurred in
3.2 The RSC acts a key information provider
and source of expertise on scientific issues for the media calling
upon our members, the resources of our extensive library and the
wider chemistry community as appropriate. We are the first port
of call on chemistry issues for the media.
3.3 The RSC has led the way in providing
promotional activities for science on the web. The chemsoc web
site [www.chemsoc.org] (and among its features the Visual Elements
Periodic Table) has received worldwide acclaim for its beauty
and its ability to promote chemistry to a non-science audience.
The site itself is the leading chemistry site of its type in the
4.1 The RSC's principal sources of income,
all of which are applied to its charitable activities, are:
publishing (substantially learned
4.2 From time to time the RSC is in receipt
of relatively modest amounts of public funds (up to £100K)
in the form of grants for specific projects. These are awarded
following successful bids made in open competition.
Most of these projects have been in education
and training where the RSC is uniquely placed to bring all sectors
of education and employment together.
4.3 The RSC does not otherwise receive government
funding nor does it consider that learned and professional societies
should receive public funding for their core activities. Many
bodies, including the RSC, act in an advisory capacity to government
and view this as a core activity. It is essential that this advice
is independent and seen to be so. Hence it is necessary that the
bodies themselves, and any co-ordinating associations that act
on their behalf should be financially independent of government.
4.4 The RSC receives the usual benefits
that accrue through its status as a charity and benefits in kind
through use of part of Burlington House for its headquarters and
4.5 The value of these benefits is more
than offset by the contributions the RSC makes, in cash and in
kind, through the voluntary efforts of the chemical community
and to publicly funded activities. For example:
the RSC spends £1 million per
annum in support of chemistry teaching in schools;
additionally, as the largest provider
of inservice courses for chemistry teachers in the UK, an additional
amount of £300,000 per annum subsidises course fees;
the RSC's scientific journals rely
heavily on volunteer effort. This and the RSC's pricing policy
ensures that they cost substantially less than their commercial
analogues, saving publicly funded libraries in the UK in excess
of £1 million per annum;
provision at a cost of over £500,000
per annum in Burlington House of one Europe's leading libraries
for chemistry and an archive for important chemical collections
that is accessible by all scholars and scientists; and
the RSC has spent £600,000 over
the last three years on the fabric of Burlington House over and
above routine maintenance and running costs.
4.6 A further example of the contributions
in kind the RSC makes is the approximately 5,000 days per annum
contributed by RSC members to supporting the teaching of chemistry
in schools through lectures, careers advice, participation in
Chemistry at Work events for schools and the numerous activities
promoting science with the public.
The Royal Society of Chemistry is both the learned
society for chemistry and the professional qualifying body for
chemists in the United Kingdom. It is one of the most prominent
and influential independent scientific organisations in Britain.
Through its 46,000 members, including academics, teachers and
industrialists, the Society promotes the benefits of chemical
science and the interests of chemists.
As the professional body for chemistry in the
UK, the Society is responsible for maintaining advanced standards
of qualifications, competence and professional practice amongst
chemists. The Society assesses and accredits degrees and diplomas
in chemistry and related courses in British universities, and
awards Chartered Chemist status.
The Society plays a leading role in the science
of chemistry, communicating cutting edge research and its applications
through highly respected journals and a programme of international
conferences, seminars and workshops. The Society actively promotes
networking amongst the chemistry community through its specialist
subject groups, Local Sections, Internet networks, industry-academia
initiatives and other activities.
The Society is one of the world's major chemical
publishing houses with a wide range of primary, secondary, and
tertiary literature, including research journals, abstracts and
indexes, educational publications and computer-based information
services. Revenue generated from these activities is ploughed
back into chemistry and into the Society's services for members.
The Society's educational activities provide
information and training opportunities for both students and teachers.
The Society is extremely active in determining the future of chemical
education, seeking to influence Government by submitting evidence
to Parliament and Government agencies, and anticipating developments
in education policy.
Strong ties are maintained with government both
at national and at European Community level. Formal contact with
parliament is maintained through the Society's two parliamentary
advisers and through its Link Scheme, whereby members of the Society
are linked with individual Members of Parliament.
Achievements in chemistry are recognised by
offering more than 40 endowed lectureships, medals and awards
to those chemists who have made significant contributions to the
advancement of a field of research. Some of the awards have industrial
sponsors and many of the Society's awards are aimed specifically
at younger chemists.
Members of the Society benefit from a wide range
of services, including an individual subscription to Chemistry
in Britain, career management advice, discounts on books and
journals and conference fees, access to subject-based networks,
and free access to the Society's two web sites www.rsc.org and