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Campaign urges protest over UK science funding decline

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Campaigners are urging researchers, librarians and others connected with science to back their efforts to reverse a decline in science funding in the UK.

According to the Science is Vital group, Real-terms funding of science in the UK has declined by five per cent in the last five years. Britain now spends only 0.44 per cent of GDP on publicly funded research and development, the lowest level of investment of any of the G8 countries.

And there’s worse to come, the group warns: the government is threatening further cuts of 25 to 40 per cent.

On Monday, Science is Vital will be holding a rally at London's Conway Hall, with the aim of drawing attention to the matter.

The rally will feature speakers including: theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili, science presenter and writer Adam Rutherford; Campaign for Science and Engineering's Naomi Weir; and former Cambridge MP and researcher Julian Huppert.

Huppert told Research Information: 'The impending Comprehensive Spending Review is a critical time for the future of science and research in Britain. If the cuts many of us fear do come, this will cause people to leave research, or leave the UK to continue their work, as they will not be confident of getting the funding they need here in the UK.

'That will hit us hard - lower achievement, lower productivity, a worse time for Britain in the future. It is incredibly shortsighted, and we need to work together to make it clear how damaging it would be.'

Fellow campaigner Stephen Curry, of Imperial College London, added: 'We want to send the strong message that the UK needs a commitment to reversing the decline in the UK research base. It has shrunk under the last flat-cash settlement and the UK has dropped to the bottom of the G8 league table in terms of the percent of GDP invested in research. Has the UK lost its appetite for world-class research?'

The campaign group is also urging interested parties to send an 'electronic postcard' to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, explaining why science funding is vital to them.

Science is Vital is a grassroots organisation that campaigns for science funding in the UK. It was founded in 2010 when more than 2,000 scientists and supporters of science rallied outside the Treasury in London to protest the UK government’s threatened cuts to research funding.