DSIT’s Call for Evidence to Shape New National Maths Academy

17 January 2024

We welcome the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT)’s announcement (12 January) and, alongside our colleagues in the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, the Learned Societies, and other organisations in the field, we look forward to engaging with this Call for Evidence.

Further, with their support, and drawing on over a year’s hard work by our staff, Executive Committee and Advisory Board, we look forward to presenting our case to be the delivery partner for this important initiative.

In the Autumn Statement, the UK Government made the welcome announcement that it will “support the establishment of a National Academy focused on Mathematical Sciences”, backed by “up to £6m of seed funding over the next three years”, subject to business case.

DSIT’s Call for Evidence is a step along the path towards implementing this. They are seeking expert views and evidence from interested stakeholders from academia, education, industry, the public sector and beyond to answer the following questions:

  • What objectives should a new academy pursue and how?
  • What should the academy focus on in the short-term vs. longer- term?
  • How would any new organisation complement the existing institutional landscape?
  • What lessons can be learnt from the establishment of similar organisations?

DSIT’s Call states that a core aim of the new National Academy will be to provide independent and credible leadership to this community, in particular by:

  • Helping the sector to speak with one voice, developing clear and consistent positions on how to promote and enhance mathematical sciences at all levels, and across all areas of society;
  • Promoting mathematical sciences in ways which support economic growth and societal benefits;
  • Convening, coordinating, and assessing views and evidence from across the mathematical community so as to provide high-quality independent advice to government and society;
  • Strengthening the UK’s mathematical sciences community, working constructively with the learned societies and forging links across academia, industry, government and wider civil society;
  • Promoting the benefits of mathematical sciences and develop strategies to boost uptake of skills, qualifications, and careers in the UK.

We are pleased to see that these preliminary objectives identified by DSIT are closely aligned with our own  (presented here and below) that were developed by AcadMathSci’s Executive Committee, informed and shaped by the feedback received during our Spring/Summer 2023 Consultation. We would like to see more about the importance of education in the objectives identified by DSIT – we have heard repeatedly from the community that this is a critical element of the Academy’s work – but, that aside, there is strong alignment between their proposed objectives and our own.

We will be responding to the Call for Evidence, registering for DSIT’s virtual round tables, and presenting our case to be the delivery partner for this important initiative.

AcadMathSci’s Vision

The Academy for the Mathematical Sciences will be an authoritative and persuasive voice for the whole of the mathematical sciences. We will work with learned societies, other organisations, and people in the community who develop, teach, research, communicate, and use mathematics and the mathematical sciences. The Academy’s focus will include teaching and education, academic research pushing the frontiers of what is known, and the implementation of mathematics in practice in industry, commerce, government and elsewhere. The Academy will support the advancement of the field by bringing together those in the community, and by acting to nurture the people pipeline, increase societal engagement and improve the recognition of the power, value and beauty of mathematical science. Our ambition is that our field delivers on its full potential to improve lives, help people, strengthen society, enhance economic productivity, and benefit and enrich our world.

AcadMathSci’s Objectives

Increased number of mathematical scientists – through evidence-based interventions at key points of the people pipeline. This will drive knowledge transfer and the supply of highly trained mathematical scientists to industry, teaching, and the public sector, as well as strengthening the UK’s world-leading position in foundational research.

Improved diversity in the mathematical sciences workforce. Targeted interventions to address the lack of diversity in gender, ethnic, and socio-economic background – broadening the talent pool in UK mathematical sciences, increasing the number of women, increasing equality of economic opportunity, and moving the demographics of the mathematical sciences workforce closer to those they teach and empower.

Better public policy – by giving policy makers and government straightforward access to deep expertise from the full UK mathematical sciences community, in areas that range from AI, statistical modelling, and data science, to curriculum design, to national resilience.

Support for maths education – through policy development and advocacy around curriculum transformation, resourcing, CPD for teachers, and an inclusive, evidence-based approach to future maths skills.

Improved economic growth, innovation, and prosperity – by enabling businesses to draw on the power of data and the mathematical sciences; targeted programs to unlock the economic benefits of mathematical R&D; and showing how greater numeracy and data literacy can increase productivity and creativity in all sectors of the economy.

Public advocacy around mathematics and data science. We will campaign to raise numeracy and data fluency across the population, in collaboration with other actors in the space, moving the national debate from fear to understanding. We will campaign for more research funding for the mathematical sciences, through persuasive advocacy and building out the evidence base.