President Warns That Drastic Research Funding Cuts Would Imperil UK’s Future Success
Speaking at a reception in the House of Commons on 17 June 2010, the President of the British Academy, Sir Adam Roberts, warned that drastic funding cuts to university and research budgets would imperil the massive contribution to the UK’s economic, social and cultural life made by the humanities and social sciences.
Launching a new British Academy booklet called Past, Present and Future, Sir Adam highlighted the “enormous reservoir of public value” which these disciplines generate, outlining their contribution to Britain’s health, wealth and international reputation.
He also challenged “the sterile and outdated notion of a society of two cultures” - drawing attention to the increasing mutual dependencies of the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences in responding to the major social challenges of our age.
The event was sponsored by Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University, who said the humanities and social sciences were “undervalued and underfunded”. He commended the Academy’s new booklet and added that it was depressing that such a case needed to be made – especially as many of the senior politicians in all parties were themselves beneficiaries of a humanities or social science education - and that without them the country would be spiritually impoverished.
The event was timed to form part of Universities Week, a celebration of higher education taking place across the UK. Professor Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University and President of Universities UK, drew attention to the financial plight all universities faced as cuts began to reduce their income with no certainty of whether, when or by how much any additional revenue consequent on Lord Browne’s review might be agreed by the new Government.
Erratum: In the printed version of Past, Present and Future, p. 3, line 8, "almost 20% of GDP" should read "almost 5% of GDP" (the sense is clear from the footnote). This error has been corrected in the pdf file on this website.