Their union, Prospect, says insufficient core funding and uncertainty over future funding are putting the critical mass of scientific expertise in Scottish research establishments at risk.
Sue Ferns, Prospect’s head of research, said: “The Scottish government almost doubled its investment in science, engineering and technology between 1997-98 and 2001-02, but expenditure has been frozen since 2006. This is having a damaging impact on research institutes.
“The restructuring of the Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate and the fragmentation of its functions across three directorates is worrying, not least because funding has only been committed for the first year of the five-year funding cycle to 2016. It is not clear how priorities will be assessed and implemented from 2012.”
Prospect reps will be attending a Science Questiontime event on Wednesday March 9 organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Representatives from all of the major political parties in the Parliament will debate questions in front of a live audience drawn from the Scottish science and engineering community.
The union’s ten point plan – Ten steps, one giant leap: Prospect’s manifesto for Scottish science – says politicians must:
- recognise the crucial role played by science for the public good
- provide adequate funds to invest in long-term research and infrastructure
- recognise the distinct needs and contributions of the university sector and the Scottish Main Research Providers
- encourage and incentivise investment in priority sectors
- resist cost-driven lab closures and privatisation
- enhance investment in STEM skills at all levels
- safeguard the skills base and provide decent pay and careers for staff
- appoint a Cabinet Minister with cross-cutting authority and accountability for public sector science
- commit to open decision-making and proper consultation with stakeholders, including union representatives
- remove barriers to immigration from non-EU countries.
The manifesto can be downloaded from: http://library.prospect.org.uk/id/2011/00318