John Denham - webchat
Earlier today, John Denham (Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills) participated in a "live" webchat. Members of the public were encouraged to submit their questions in advance, so I did just that. I didn't ask why they had managed to spell skills as "skiils" on their website. Anyway, here is my question together with his response.
Megan: "Increasing the supply of people in science, technology and engineering" [a quote from the DIUS website] is going to be very hard to do when there are such high profile issues as the current funding problems within the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Do you accept that such problems will lead to the perception that there is a low chance of a long-term career in STEM subjects, and therefore both a reduction in the number of students taking these subjects at A-level, and an increase in the number of young, qualified researchers taking jobs overseas?
John replies: It is important to increase the number of young people choosing to study STEM subjects. There was a very welcome increase in the number of applicants to university this year. It is important that the debates around the STFC programme are not conducted in a way that gives the impression that British science is in anything but good health.
In my view too little attention is being given to the real increases in research budgets across the science disciplines, and the major investments that are being made in new research facilities. Diamond, for example, has recruited 300 scientists and engineers in that past year or so.
Did he answer the question? Well, he's a politician, what do you expect.