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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
Bid to attract scientists to UK
Science subjects are declining in popularity at A-level
A Rhodes scholarship-type scheme will be set up to attract the world's best scientists to the UK, the government is set to announce.

Trade Secretary Alistair Darling will say the wide-ranging expertise available should no longer be one of the country's "best-kept secrets".

The Royal Society scheme will build on the 100m already available for scholarships, he will add.

The announcement comes amid fears for the future of UK university science.

'Work with the best'

Several university science departments have had to close because, under the funding formula, most of the money goes to those given the top government ratings.

Mr Darling will say: "Science has been one of Britain's best-kept secrets. I want to change that.

"To be the best you need to work with the best. This new scheme aims to attract the best in science to Britain.

"It will push our world class science base further and help give us a business edge."

A similar scheme in Germany - the Humboldt foundation - has produced more than 20,000 scientists and 35 Nobel Prize winners, the Department of Trade and Industry said.

UK government funding for science has risen from 1.3bn in 1997 to 3.5bn this year, it added.

However, the Science Community Partnership Supporting Education (Score) group has raised concerns over the future of the subject in schools.

This year, A-level entries in physics reached a new low, with 37% fewer students choosing it than in 1991, according to the Royal Society.

Score, which is made up of societies and teachers, will advise the government on increasing the popularity of science.

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