In this question to the Minister Lord Bilimoria asks if the Minister will acknowledge that one of the best ways of increasing productivity is to invest in Higher Education and research and development innovation. He also asks if the Minister would agree that the UK under invests in Higher Education compared with other states and yet retains the best universities in the world.
Question Asked by Lord Harrison:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to improve productivity in the United Kingdom economy.
My Lords, will the Minister acknowledge that one of the best ways of increasing productivity is to invest in higher education and research and development innovation? Would he also agree that we underinvest as a percentage of GDP in our higher education, compared with the OECD EU average, and way under America, and yet have the best universities in the world? When it comes to R&D innovation, we invest 1.7% of GDP compared with 2.8% in the United States and Germany. We would have to invest an extra £20 billion a year just to catch up with them.
The noble Lord makes a good point. The fact is that the productivity of our investment in research in British universities is incredibly high and the output of our top universities is fantastically high by any world standards. He will know as well as I do that we are now committed to raising an extra £2 billion a year in research by 2021, which is a very significant increase. He is also right that even after that increase we are still not investing as much on a per capita basis or on a percentage of GDP basis as some of our biggest competitors—Germany and the US, for example. So we are making good progress but the job is not yet done.