Election special: which party is voting for engineering?

It won’t have escaped your attention that a General Election is taking place on May 7, with many of you taking part in the process for the first time.

The Student Engineer can’t predict what Parliament will look like after the election but we can let you know what the major parties are planning in relation to STEM and higher education, plus their vision for research in the UK.

CaSE, the Campaign for Science and Engineering, wrote to the leader of every political party to set out their manifesto commitments that are relevant to the science and engineering sector. Here’s a quick look at what the main parties are proposing. 

CONSERVATIVES

  • Reforming the education system for the next generation of scientists and engineers. Aim to raise the number of A Level maths and physics students by 50% by 2017 and to double the number of undergraduate degrees taken by women in engineering and technology by 2030. Will train 17,500 more maths and physics teachers.
  • Committed £5.9 billion of capital to support scientific distinction up to 2021
  • Committed £800million to new research facilities including £95m to take the lead in the next European mission to Mars.
  • £150m to the UK Innovation Investment Fund
  • Financial support to part time engineering students, introducing loans up to £10K for young people who want to undertake postgraduate study.

Read the full response from the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron at CaSE

LABOUR

  • Implement a long term funding framework for science and innovation
  • Educating the scientists and engineers of the future by introducing a new gold standard Technical Baccalaureate for 16-18 year olds, ensuring all young people study English and Maths to 18 and boost quality apprenticeships by requiring that all firms who get large government contracts offer apprenticeships.
  • Foster innovation and investment in new low carbon technologies by strengthening the Green Investment Bank and setting a 2030 decarbonisation target.
  • Securing the UK’s place in a reformed EU.

Read the full respose from the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband at CaSE

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

  • Aim to double innovation and research spending
  • More catapult innovation and technology centres
  • More support for green innovation from the Green Investment Bank
  • Ringfence science budget
  • Encourage primary schools to have one science specialist among the staff
  • Reinstate post-study work visas for STEM graduates

Read the full response from the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg at CaSE

GREEN PARTY

  • Increase spending on research to 1% of GDP over the next 10 years
  • Remove undergraduate tuition fees and reintroduce student grants
  • Restore the post-study work visa that allowed non-EU postgraduates to seek work in the UK for two years
  • Bring back schools under local authority control to create curriculum with a strong and scientific and practical component.
  • Support for the development of renewable energy technologies

Read the full response from the Leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett at CaSE

UKIP

  • Abolish tuition fees for STEM degrees for students who work within the UK for the following five years after graduating.
  • Require every primary school to nominate a science leader.
  • Leave the EU and review the wealth of EU regulations and directives that can be unnecessarily restrictive when it comes to research.
  • Introduce a points based immigration system which will give priority to those seeking to enter the UK where we have skill gaps in our economy.

Read the full response from the Leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage at CaSE

PLAID CYMRU

  • Encourage Welsh universities to get more UK-based research funding and also from the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding.
  • In principle, higher education should be free for all. Provide a subsidy for students resident in Wales who wish to study in Wales. No tuition fees for those taking up STEM subjects.
  • Encourage skilled migrants to come to work in Wales and re-introduce the post-study work visa for two years for students who have qualified from Welsh universities.
  • Increase energy generation from renewable sources with emphasis on tidal and hydro sources.

Read the full response from Plaid Cymru at CaSE

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

  • Innovation grants under the SMART:SCOTLAND scheme
  • Improve links between education and industry with a £14m capital investment in Scotland’s Innovation Centres.
  • Promote STEM education and continued funding to the four science centres in Scotland

Read the full response from the Office of the Scottish Chief Scientific Advisor at CaSE