John Krebs, chair of the House of Lords science and technology committee, claims that if the cuts to the government's science budget are introduced, the UK will see a brain drain of talent. He wrote a letter to David Willets expressing the anxiety that cuts in funding will make scientists move to overseas universities causing "significant risks" to the UK's scientific research base. The government departments have been asked to prepare for cuts of 25% although all scientists are continuing to say that deep cuts would have drastic long-term effects for many fields of research.
Vince Cable, business secretary, has recently proposed to define and build up areas which were the moist significant in the UK, such as stem cells and regenerative medicine, satellite communications, fuel cells, plastic electronics, and advanced manufacturing. He urges to concentrate funds on research for the best departments.
Lord Krebs wrote in his essay: "As our competitors have recognized the importance of science to economic growth and have increased the proportion of funding for research, the competition for international talent will heighten. Their evidence demonstrates that, in a world where talent is highly mobile, a widening of the funding differential, whether real or perceived, between the UK and our competitors will put at risk the ability of the UK to continue to recruit and retain the very best brains and to maintain the highest standards of research, for which the UK is renowned and from which the UK has been able to reap significant commercial benefit."
David Willets in his letter asked the peers to give evidences of the UK researchers plans to go overseas if funding was cut. At the same time Lord Krebs wrote to the heads of six top research universities in Britain – Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and Edinburgh.
Nancy Rothwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, told Krebs that two people had denied taking the positions because they have discovered the proposed funding of laboratory space to be unsatisfactory. Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London, had similar examples, claiming that UK universities can not compete with international universities.
Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, said "The world's leading universities now operate in a truly global environment, and we expect that our academic staff will be recruited from around the world. Turnover of staff and recruitment from outside the UK is a sign of the institution's strength."
Yesterday scientists who are carrying out researches in stem cell science warned that the UK would not be a world leader in regenerative medicine any longer because the government has invested not enough money in turning breakthroughs into treatments. Richard Sykes, chairman of the UK stem cell foundation, considers that the previous government is responsible for failing to help researchers make their discoveries famous medical therapies. He urged coalition ministers to begin providing support for this field again.