23 February 2007

UK Government Science Investment

I was disappointed to read about the UK Government taking money from the science and medical research budgets to "soften the blow" of Rover's collapse.

That Rover was a dead duck was known for many, many years (decades even), and while I have sympathy with the workers there, I don't think they deserved anything different than any other worker laid off from a failed company.

But looking at it another way, the stupidity and short-sightedness of the government's moves seems clear: Does anyone for one minute think that Rover's demise came about by investing too MUCH in science and engineering research?

Once again, we have taken from the future to pay for past mistakes. Particularly nasty is the fact that medical research is reduced when clearly this has nothing to do with engineering.

As an aside, the article implies that the government has put a significant extra investment into research so it is merely taking back a little of that largesse. But I know that much of the money (like for the NHS) has gone on administration. For instance whereas a grant of £170k a few years ago would have been spent on the research, the grant is now topped up with "overhead" of, say £130k to pay for admin at the university. No more science is done than at the £170k level, but the cost is now £300k!

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