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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 8. 1964.

Small Change For NZ Science

Small Change For NZ Science

New Zealanders seem to think that science is unimportant judging by small contributions to the funds tor scientific activities made by the public at large.

Until the climate of opinion in the community is changed, scientists can expect little support. So said Dr. Williams of the States Services Commission in his talk, "Opportunities for Science Graduates," on Thursday, April 23.

Dr. Williams described in his talk some of the controlling factors in these opportunities. He gave figures to prove that the output of scientists in the last 10 years has roughly doubled. But he said there has been only a 5-6 per cent increase of expenditure on scientific activities. Therefore, the output of scientists is increasing much more rapidly than are the facilities. At this present rate the future employment situation will be worse than ever for science graduates.

Dr. Williams stated that in New Zealand the Government is sharing a far greater part of the effort for scientific research than are the governments of many other countries. In the typical western countries, including USA and Great Britain. 60-70 per cent of the money spent on research is contributed by the government and in Japan and Holland, 30-40 per cent. Private sources supply the remainder of the funds in these countries. In comparison the New Zealand Government accounts for 90 per cent of expenditure on science, and the public only 10 per cent.

In order to gain more prestige and support for scientific knowledge. Dr. Williams suggested several practical methods. Firstly he believed that a great deal of the blame for the lack of prestige stemmed from scientists' failure to link application with research. He said that too many scientists lose interest between research and application. He suggested that perhaps the most important problems were not being investigated and very often through lack of funds for other reasons the answers came too late to be useful.