Government focus on STEM must remain

As the Government today outlines action required to strengthen the UK’s troubled economy, the Institute of Physics (IOP) seeks reassurance that the Government will keep science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at the heart of the recovery.

Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, chief executive at IOP, said, “While we are pleased that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has promised to protect spending on research, innovation, business and enterprise, and student numbers in higher education, we are disappointed that fewer opportunities for new science, technology, engineering and maths students will be opening up now that the scope of the University Modernisation Fund has been diminished.

“We appreciate the pressures on the public purse but stand firm in our belief that an investment in science and engineering, in universities and in businesses, offers the best path through these difficult times. We are particularly surprised, on the business front, to see the Small Business Research Initiative classed with other possible efficiency savings – now, more than ever, innovative small businesses need the kind of support that the SBRI can provide.

“The Government needs to keep its focus on improving the uptake of STEM subjects at university and the creation of a business environment conducive to the growth of high technology businesses.”