The British Academy joins partners to host hustings in science, innovation and technology

26 Jun 2024

The British Academy held a pre-general election hustings last week in which spokespeople from the main political parties set out their policies for science, innovation and technology. The event was hosted by the UK’s four National Academies: The British Academy, the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Academy of Engineering – as well as the Campaign for Science and Engineering and the Foundation for Science and Technology.

Attendees from across the sector - including scientists, researchers, journalists and senior industry figures - came together for a panel and audience Q&A chaired by science commentator Anjana Ahuja and before a packed room of over 250 people, as well as those who joined online. Representatives from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats covered a range of topics within science, innovation and technology, including artificial intelligence and the regulation of AI, public trust and the role of ethics in science and innovation, and the relationship between science, innovation and economic growth.

Panellists discussed long-term 10-year research and development (R&D) funding plans for key institutions and the opportunities and challenges in the context of a five-year parliamentary term. They also shared their policies on visas and immigration. The British Academy's manifesto calls for the reduction of barriers to international collaboration and research mobility with a substantial cut to the costs of visas and associated fees, the end to the need to pay upfront for these costs, and the removal of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Audience members asked the panel about the funding crisis facing UK universities and what their government would to do address this challenge. The British Academy is calling for an urgent review of higher education funding to deliver a sustainable model that delivers a wide breadth of subjects and is resilient to regional inequalities in provision.

Spokespeople were also asked about the relationship between the social sciences, humanities and the arts and science policy, and whether these disciplines are included in their government’s vision for science policy. The panel unanimously agreed that they play a vital role and notably, praised the contribution they have made to tackling Covid-19 and AI, as well as the economic value of the UK creative industries.

The hustings were live-streamed for an online audience and a recording of the event can be found on YouTube.

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