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In his Autumn Statement today, Chancellor George Osborne said that science is a “personal priority” and highlighted £5.9bn of sustained investment in science, including a new £250m centre for advanced material science to be established in Manchester. He also announced government backed student loans of up to £10k for postgraduate masters degrees of all disciplines.

The Society of Biology welcomes the Chancellor’s support for science in his Autumn 'pre-budget' Statement, but highlights the need for continued recognition that science can deliver enhanced growth to the economy.

The fastest growing of any major developed economy in the world, with a forecast for growth of 3%, and with the expectation of business investment up by 11%, must have continued real investment in science to realise what it can deliver in terms of enhanced growth, additional private investment, and societal benefit. This is in addition to the Chancellor’s recognition that the exploration of science has value in itself.

The announcements of investment in material science, ageing and big data are welcome as is the enhanced investment in research in the north of England. Diversity in focus and location will help to build a stable environment that gets the best from our talented scientists and existing science infrastructure as well as attracting new talent.

The announcement of a £10k loan available to postgraduate students is a very welcome improvement on the current situation which risked losing vital specialisation of students, researchers, teachers and revenue.

Professor Hilary MacQueen FSB, chair of HUBS (Heads of University Biosciences), a special interest group of the Society of Biology, said:

“We certainly welcome this announcement. Lack of funding for postgraduate study has made further learning difficult to access for UK students, and this situation risks putting not only the individuals but also the country on the back foot in terms of world competitiveness. The new funding will go a considerable way towards rectifying this problem.”

The Society hopes that this, along with expanded support for apprenticeships, will encourage uptake of these two important routes to fulfilling and productive careers in science.

A long-term vision for science and innovation is critical and the Society looks forward to the promised announcements on the Government’s framework for this – it is essential that it achieves the right balance of ambition and breadth to secure a better future.