The Government must pump money into Britain’s research base and introduce selectivity, said Sir Aaron Klug in his presidential address at the Royal Society this week.
Klug, an eminent molecular biologist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1982, cited the problems of infrastructure funding identified in the recent Dearing Report on Higher Education, which had called for the Government to inject £110m.
The most immediate infrastructure problem stems from chronic under-funding of the Higher Education Funding Councils, he said. These provide the facilities for research in universities, well found laboratories and research support.
`The way out is for the Government to find the £110m [estimated shortfall by Dearing] now, and comparable sums in the following years. This is a small percentage of the total Government budget, but I think it is crucial for the future of the UK economy. I do not believe I am exaggerating in saying that this small sum could make a huge difference to the state of the science base as we face the millennium. In these matters, effects are not linear.’
Klug also called for selectivity of funding: `resources should be concentrated where the best scientific research is conducted – fostering excellence requires selective allocation of funds.’