AM calls for shake-up in science funding


Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Skills Spokesperson highlighted the need for Wales to obtain extra money for science research during a cross party group meeting in the Senedd.

 At the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Science and the Assembly event he co-sponsored with other Assembly Members Mid and West AM for the Party of Wales Simon Thomas said:

"One of the regular themes raised in discussions with scientists over the last few years has been the lack of money available for research in our universities.

"The percentage of research money from the research councils to Wales has stayed the same for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects over the last 20 years.

"We have seen intervention from the Welsh Government to try and improve matters. The latest scheme is Sêr Cymru. However, the money spent on science research in the whole of Wales is less than Edinburgh University receives by itself. In almost every area – physics, mathematics, clinical medicine, electrical engineering – the number of researchers in Wales is less than it should be.

"There are a number of reason for this. When the research councils were created Wales was already in the slow lane and that is where we have remained. It is obvious the schemes introduced over the years have not changed things for the better. It is time we should be honest about this and search for new answers.

"We have to act on the Donaldson curriculum review recommendations that science remains central to the curriculum in Wales and ensure digital competency. Science as three separate subjects is important. We should promote science as a learning journey for those people who don’t want to go to university. This means we have to enhance the status of vocational courses and apprenticeships."

The Plaid Cymru Shadow Education and Skills Minister added:

"I’m calling on the Welsh Government to improve the Qualifications Wales Bill to put a duty on the new body to promote equality between academic and vocational courses.

"We have to look again at the research councils to agree a way of raising the percentage of research from Wales, including investment in improving the capacity of our universities to bid for research money. Plaid Cymru believes science is essential for a strong economy and to respond to the threat of climate change and enrich our lives."