Responding to the Government's announcement of £150m in-year cuts to university teaching and research budgets, Lord Stern, President of the British Academy, said today (24 July 2015):
"A serious growth strategy to raise UK productivity and promote innovation must place investment in research and development at its core. All areas of research, including social science and the humanities, have vital roles to play – and as research becomes increasingly interdisciplinary, cuts in one area can very readily have an adverse effect in others.
"The Business Secretary has encouraged HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) to seek ways to protect support for STEM research (in science, technology, engineering and maths) at the expense of other areas in order to make the required savings. STEM research is vital, but the route to future UK prosperity is to continue to invest in, and build on, the UK’s world-leading research strengths in all areas.
"The great challenges of our time – productivity, growth, ageing, obesity, security, climate change, etc. – have social sciences and humanities at their core and are inextricably interwoven with science and technology. Innovation, creativity, research, development and scholarship work best when the relevant disciplines are strong and support each other. That is, and should continue to be, a great strength of the UK. As the Prime Minister and Chancellor have said, we have to build on our strengths and core comparative advantages. That is what will take our economy forward and make our society strong."