The UK’s new age of austerity has begun and the axe has fallen on higher education. The new Chancellor George Osborne set out to make his mark on the political scene with £6.2bn of emergency cuts to government spending, which hit the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills hard as it lost 3.9%, or £836m, of its funding.
Universities are expected to find £200m of efficiencies savings and the extra 20,000 science, technology, engineering and maths students promised by the previous government will now be halved. There will be an extra £150m for 50,000 new apprentices specialising in employment in SMEs and another £50m to invest in further education colleges that are in greatest need. An emergency budget to address the country’s financial problems is set for 22 June 2010 with more cuts expected.
Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said: ‘The UK spends less on R&D than any other G7 country, bar Italy, and we won’t become a truly modern and competitive economy until that is addressed.’
The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, a partnership between Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, University College London and the Wellcome trust, will still be funded, but the money will be provided as needed. This means that the £233m for the centre, which will develop new treatments for killers, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, will be dished out over a five year period as building work progresses.