Professor Brian Cox attacks ‘nonsensical’ plans to cut science funding and student grants

The Guardian is reporting that Professor Brian Cox has said that proposals by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) to slash science funding by £215m over two years and convert £350m of student grant payments into loans would damage a national priority…

“The future of our economy essentially rests on an investment in students  … Virtually every [developed] country in the world knows that,” Cox said.

Recently revealed by the Guardian, the swingeing budget measures that are expected to take effect from next year have in part stemmed from over-expenditure on supporting students in the private college sector – a cost which has trebled in the last year to £175m.

On Tuesday night, the department confirmed that it had initiated a leak enquiry after high-level documents detailing ranging financial measures, some of which are awaiting approval from Nick Clegg, were passed to the Guardian.

Cox said that if the measures were the result of a budget “cock-up” – with millions more diverted to private colleges than expected – then it would be wrong to divert resources away from a “national priority”.

Policy should operate for the good of the country … the decision has been made at a high level, correctly in my view, that science and research in general and higher education should be a priority.”

“George Osborne… [David] Cameron, [David] Willetts, Vince Cable, everyone agrees that investment in higher education is considered a priority. Everybody agrees that. So when you make accounting errors even of this scale, then … it shouldn’t be the case that you say to BIS: ‘Well, it’s your cock-up, you deal with it.’

“We’re talking about a national strategy … and that’s the language that’s been used … Once you’ve said that and once you accept it, then if you making an error in another area, then it’s a cross-government problem … it’s not a single department’s problem … this is a national strategy.”

Former Labour minister Alan Milburn, the coalition’s current social mobility adviser, warned the grant cut could deter the poor from getting a degree…

More at:  Brian Cox attacks ‘nonsensical’ plans to cut science funding and student grants

Do you agree with @ProfBrianCox‘s comments? How serious would it be if these funding cuts were made? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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