More cash needed to stop science 'drain'

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling on the government to address a lack of funding in science over fears that physicists and chemists will take their skills elsewhere.

The union's new report, Hybrid Cars and Shooting Stars, urges ministers to make up the £80 million shortfall affecting the Science and Technologies Facilities Council.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The UK has a fantastic record on science but our researchers need state-of-the-art facilities at their disposal and research institutes need a highly skilled pool of scientists to recruit from."

The report also calls on scientists to do more to increase public understanding of their work and suggests the holding of science summits across the UK, where schools, politicians and scientists could debate key issues such as climate change and medical research.

In further bad news, the report suggests that too many students are dropping science as a subject in a sign that the subject is not being made popular as a career choice. A further cause of concern is the difficulty in recruiting science teachers for school and university.

The role of women in science is also highlighted in the report, with the conclusion that more must be done to increase the number of women who take science degrees and who go on to pursue a career in the subject. Only 14% of science and technology professionals are women, and within universities only 14% of engineering and technology students, 24% of computer science and 22% of physicists are female.

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