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Last Updated: Friday, 24 October, 2003, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Nobel decline blamed on funding
Students are better funded in the USA, argues Lampl.
Britain's record for winning Nobel prizes has fallen because its universities are under-funded, claims the founder of an educational trust.

A study of Nobel prize winners by the Sutton Trust found the achievements of the UK, Germany and other European countries are falling.

The USA tops the table, with a total of 255 Nobel prizes between 1900 and 2002.

The UK was awarded 77 prizes in the same time.

Sir Peter Lampl, the founder of the Sutton Trust, says the difference in achievement is due to the way the two countries fund their universities.

'USA growth'

In an article for the Times Higher Educational Supplement, Sir Peter said: "Nobel prizes give a time delayed measure of performance and given the rapid deterioration of funding at British universities over the last 20 years it is likely that the current situation in the UK is worse than that suggested by this analysis of Nobel Prizes.

"It is clear that British universities are drastically under-funded and that the current proposals in the White Paper are inadequate to overcome that situation. However, they are a step in the right direction."

Before the Second World War, Germany won the largest proportion of Nobel prizes - about 30% - while Britain had the second highest number - about 20% of the total.

But the USA increased its share, taking about 50% of the prizes in the 1940s and 50s and 70% between 2000 and 2002.

At the same time, Britain's share of the prizes fell, as did that of other European countries.

Dramatic fall

The UK share held at around 20% until 1980 and since then has dropped well below 10%, while Germany and other European countries have seen a similar decline.

The trust says the UK spends 1% of GDP on higher education, while the USA spends 2.7%.

It argues that spending on university teaching has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years.

"Twenty years ago the UK spent the equivalent of 10,000 per student on university tuition, it now only spends 5,100 whereas in the US average funding for private university students has grown from 6,000 to 11,000 and even state universities are funded at over 7,000 per student," Sir Peter said.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "This is why we are spending an extra 1.25bn in science and research funding over the next two years.

"Plus, our plans for variable fees will enable universities to spend even more on research and science."

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