From education to employment

Experts and sector leaders invited to shape new UK National Maths Academy

Collaboration, employee engagement

Maths experts are invited to help shape a new National Academy of Mathematical Sciences that will skill-up the country and grow our economy, after a call for evidence was launched by Science, Research and Innovation Minister, Andrew Griffith, today (Friday 12 January).

  • New National Academy of Mathematical Sciences to drive up skills
  • Voices from business, academia and beyond encouraged to shape new Academy
  • Maths underpins our economy from air travel to financial markets and will drive future tech like artificial intelligence and quantum

From keeping aircraft in the skies, to enabling global financial markets and even baking cakes, maths already touches every corner of our lives. It will play a pivotal role in keeping the UK at the forefront of future, transformative tech like artificial intelligence and quantum computing, making it even more important to seize the opportunity to make our country a maths superpower.

Today marks the start of the process to deliver a prestigious, independent Academy with specific objectives that offers leadership within the sector and helps make the UK a maths powerhouse – upskilling our workforce and growing the economy.

It is the latest development in Government backing for maths, which includes a commitment to establishing 11 maths schools for 16-19 years olds that will prepare the most mathematically able pupils to succeed in maths-related disciplines in further education and future careers. It also comes amid a consultation into the Advanced British Standard, a baccalaureate style qualification framework to provide every child with a world-class education and ensure all young people have the skills they need, including a core focus in maths.

The call for evidence is open until Sunday 25 February 2024 and stakeholders from academia, education, industry, the public sector and beyond are encouraged to express their views on its remit through the online form and/or applying to attend a series of roundtables organised by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

Work will then begin on identifying delivery partners to build the Academy, who could in turn receive up to £6m of Government funding over the next three years, alongside charitable donations, and potential private sector funding.

Over time, the new Academy will mark mathematics as a major priority in skills development and seek to emulate respected institutions in other fields such as the Royal Society, which offers authoritative scientific advice to decision makers and issues fellowship grants in excess of £80m per year, or the Royal Academy of Engineering which offers extensive support to many of the UK’s most innovative new businesses.

As a subject which continues to be central to scientific progress and discovery, mathematics is at the root of understanding the world we live in and key to the spectacular progress we have seen in physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science over centuries. A new institution will help to reflect the prominence and focus that a discipline vital to driving such progress and understanding the universe deserves. 

Initial objectives of the Academy, subject to feedback, include:

  • Helping the sector to speak with one voice on enhancing mathematical sciences
  • Promoting maths’ role in growing the economy
  • Coordinating, views and evidence from across the mathematics community to provide high-quality advice to government and industry
  • Developing strategies to boost maths skills and qualifications in people of all ages and backgrounds across the UK.

Science, Research and Innovation Minister, Andrew Griffith, said:

From everyday arithmetic to expert application in financial markets and engineering, mathematics is at the root of so much of our lives and our understanding of the universe.

Establishing a National Academy is an exciting opportunity for the brightest minds in the UK to come together and shape the future of their sector, and in turn helping to skill-up our country in a vital subject and growing our economy.

I would encourage voices from academia, business, education, charities and beyond to get involved and offer their views.

The new Academy builds on a recommendation of Professor Philip Bond’s independent ‘The Era of Mathematics Review’ and the recently published ‘Independent Review of the UK’s Research, Development, and Innovation Organisational Landscape’, led by Sir Paul Nurse.

Feedback from the call for evidence will be used to develop a final set of objectives and functions that a new National Academy would be expected to deliver. This information will be published on the Gov UK website within four weeks of its closure, with stakeholders interested in delivering the organisation then asked to express their interest to DSIT.

He carried on:

“We apply maths routinely throughout our lives, from measuring cooking ingredients to the weekly budget. At the same time, it underpins every aspect of our economy and has been at the root of centuries of scientific discovery that have made us live longer and be more prosperous.

“As technology develops faster than ever – from artificial intelligence to quantum computing and beyond – its application will become ever greater.

“Our plan for a National Academy for Maths will help to reflects its importance, by giving the sector an opportunity to work together on delivering high-quality advice to government and industry and to develop strategies that boost skills and confidence in people of all ages and backgrounds, across the UK.

“In time we hope to emulate existing world-leading Academies like the Royal Society and its more than £80m per year grants to facilitate cutting edge science or the Royal Academy of Engineering’s extensive support to many of the UK’s most innovative new businesses.

“As a subject that touches every corner of our lives, we need a range of voices to help shape our Academy. We’re calling on those working in academia, business, education, and the public to make their voices heard in our call for evidence, which is open until 25 February. Bringing the brightest minds in the UK together to shape the future is an opportunity to help skill-up our country for years to come.”

Professor of Creativity and Innovation at University of Manchester, Professor Philip Bond, said:

The mathematical sciences, as the beating heart of modern innovation, underpin numerous scientific, technical and social advances that improve health and raise living standards. Recent advances in medical imagery, genetics, AI and quantum technologies, for example, all rely heavily on mathematical sciences such as harmonic analysis, optimisation, statistics and group theory.

The recent announcement by government that a National Academy for the Mathematical Sciences is to be created is therefore very welcome news. The existing national academies provide essential support for the academic communities that they serve and form key bridges to industry and government. 

Their provision of expert advice and evidence-based policy recommendations provides enormous positive impact contributing to the well-being of the nation. I expect the new Academy to make a further significant contribution by enabling our mathematical scientists to foster communities more effectively, ensuring that the mathematical sciences flourish in the UK and by supporting academia, industry and government in working together to create a vibrant future for all.

Chief Executive Officer of Smith Institute, Dr Ruth Voisey, said:

I wholeheartedly welcome the establishment of a mathematical academy. It aligns with Smith Institute’s vision to bring the boundless potential of mathematical ingenuity to the everyday world, creating a positive impact across society, the economy and the environment.  

Possessing a single, authoritative voice supporting mathematical sciences will help the UK to make this vision a reality. I firmly believe that mathematics forms the bedrock of innovation, of harnessing the potential of new technologies and of shaping our response to crucial challenges that lie ahead.

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