Feeds

Boffin shortage will blight Blighty's prosperity

Report: Soft PhDs no way to earn hard currency

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The UK's top scientific body has warned that the swarms of new PhDs being churned out by British universities include a falling proportion from scientific or technological disciplines. It is feared that this lack of knowhow may render Blighty uncompetitive in the hi-tech, value-added sectors which alone can support Western levels of affluence.

In a report published yesterday, the Royal Society says that doctorates are being handed out like plastic cutlery these days, with the number issued up by 79 per cent over the past decade. But qualifications from the hard-sums departments - physics, chemistry, engineering and technology - are still being issued at much the same rate as ten years ago. Biological sciences have in theory grown massively, but this doesn't mean the UK of tomorrow will be strong in genetics or pharmaceuticals: those numbers come from a huge boom in courses such as psychology and sports science.

"Postgraduate study in the UK is very successful in terms of the overall numbers of people studying and the income generated [for universities]," said Professor Judith Howard, speaking for the Society working group which authored the report.

But the prof said that in terms of producing arse-kicking boffins with brainpower sufficient to drive a modern developed economy, UK higher education wasn't doing the business.

"The skills base our economy needs is still well behind our competitor economies," she said. "The technological breakthroughs that are required to keep us competitive will come from our labs but only if they have enough people with the best education."

A swarm of MBAs and people with PhD theses in the politics of 1930s Hungarian love poetry isn't going to be much use. But it's all too easy to see why students go for the easy, mellow subjects; you actually have to work hard in the more economically valuable areas, and to add insult to injury the fees are often significantly higher too.

The boffinry bigwigs reckon that only serious money from both government and industry can reverse the atrophy of the nation's intellectual muscles. They say that fees must come down in the shortage areas; also that the full eight years of study it takes from starting a first degree to getting a scientific PhD should be funded, rather than only seven. (At present, many hard-sums PhD students have to pay for the missing year from private resources.)

Sir Tom McKillop, another of those involved in drafting the report, said: "It is graduates in science and technology who will be leading the innovation necessary to drive the UK's economy forward in the future. We cannot expect to achieve that on the cheap."

Read the report, A Higher Degree of Concern, here (pdf). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.