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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Top scientists call for more money
school chemistry lesson
Schools often have trouble getting science teachers
Some of the UK's top scientists have called for more investment so schools and universities can recruit and keep good teachers and researchers.

Scientists from a variety of disciplines, and including four Nobel Prizewinners, say the country's science, engineering and medical research base is "a valuable asset in its own right".

They say the results of that research have been crucial to the social, economic and environmental success of the UK.

Its future depends on science education in schools and universities, they say in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"When the chancellor of the exchequer publishes the results of his spending review in the summer, he must recognise the need for the UK to invest in scientific research and education at a level at least as great as that of our international competitors."

Among the signatories are Nobel Prizewinners in three different subjects - Harry Kroto in chemistry, Anthony Hewish in physics, and John Vane and Paul Nurse in physiology or medicine.

Repeated warnings

Others include the Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, the president of the British Psychological Society, Professor Vicki Bruce, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir George Alberti and the Labour chair of the Commons science committee, Dr Ian Gibson.

They belong to the advisory council of the pressure group Save British Science.

They had wanted to use their "clout" to highlight the issue, said the group's director, Peter Cotgreave.

It has been saying for years that recruiting and retaining good people into science teaching and research is getting harder.

"What is amazing about this letter is the breadth of concern," he said.

"The government must act now."

The text of the letter follows:

"The science, engineering and medical research base is a valuable asset in its own right, and its results have been transferred into other areas to make crucial contributions to the social, economic and environmental success of the UK, and its future depends on science education in schools and universities.

"Despite some recent moves in the right direction, there remain serious difficulties in recruiting and retaining the best scientists and engineers into school teaching and into university careers in research and lecturing.

"When the chancellor of the exchequer publishes the results of his spending review in the summer, he must recognise the need for the UK to invest in scientific research and education at a level at least as great as that of our international competitors."

Signed:

Sir George Alberti FRCP FRCPE FRCPath, President, Royal College of Physicians
Sir Eric Ash CBE FRS FREng, formerly rector of Imperial College London
Prof Vicki Bruce OBE FBA FRSE, Deputy Principal, University of Stirling and President, British Psychological Society
Dr Simon Campbell FRS, formerly of Pfizer Ltd
Sir David Cox FRS, University of Oxford
Prof Alex Cullen OBE FRS FREng, formerly of University College London
Sir Richard Doll CH OBE FRS, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford
Sir Brian Follett FRS, former Vice Chancellor, University of Warwick, and Chair of the Scientific Inquiry into Infectious Diseases in Livestock
Dr Ian Gibson, MP (Lab), Chair, House of Commons Science & Technology Committee
Prof Anthony Hewish FRS, 1974 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics
Prof Colin Humphreys FREng, University of Cambridge and President, Institute of Materials
Dr Tom Inch, former Secretary General, Royal Society of Chemistry
Sir Harold Kroto FRS, 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry
The Lord Lewis of Newnham FRS, University of Cambridge
Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith FRS, Provost & President, University College London
Sir Ian Lloyd, former Conservative MP
Sir John Maddox FRS, Editor Emeritus, Nature
Prof Bob Michell MRCVS, Senior Vice President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Sir Paul Nurse FRS, Director General, Cancer Research UK and 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
Dame Bridget Ogilvie, University College London
Prof Hugh Pennington FRCPath FRSE, University of Aberdeen
Sir Martin Rees FRS, Astronomer Royal
The Baroness Sharp of Guildford (Lib Dem)
Sir David Smith FRS FRSE, Principal, University of Edinburgh 1987-93
Sir Richard Southwood FRS, Vice Chancellor of Oxford University 1989-93
Sir Richard Sykes FRS, Rector, Imperial College of Science Technology & Medicine and Chairman, GlaxoSmithKline
Ian Taylor MBE MP (Con), Minister for Science & Technology 1994-1997
Sir John Vane FRS, 1982 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
Dr Ivan Yates CBE FREng, formerly of British Aerospace plc.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | UK Education
11 Feb 01 | Wales
11 May 00 | Unions 2000
20 Sep 01 | UK Education
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