The Learned Society of Wales (LSW) is an independent, all-Wales, self-governing, pan-discipline educational charity, providing public benefit including expert scholarly advice on a variety of public policy issues related to science, engineering, medicine, arts, humanities and social sciences.
Established in 2010, the Society draws upon the considerable strengths of over 350 distinguished Fellows based in Wales, the UK and beyond.
The Society, Wales's first national scholarly academy, aims to establish itself both as a recognised international representative of the world of Welsh learning, and as a source of authoritative, scholarly, and critical comment and advice on policy issues affecting Wales.
The Mission of the Learned Society of Wales is to:
- Celebrate and encourage excellence in all of the scholarly disciplines including the professions, industry and commerce, the arts and public service;
- Promote the advancement of learning and scholarship and the dissemination and application of the results ofacademic enquiry and research; and
- Act as an independent source of expert scholarly advice and commentary on matters affecting the wellbeing of Wales and its people.
The current President is Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG FInstP PLSW.
In the early 1990s, concerns were raised about the performance of Welsh research compared with that of other UK countries. Of particular concern was the low capture of Research Council (RC) funding. Research Council grant capture became a key target for the Welsh Government and HEFCW during the first decade of devolution, in the expectation that increased research collaboration, better research management and strategic research leadership would help grow Wales’s standard share of this competitive funding. Achieving this population share of RC income (5%) was also seen as an important step in stimulating economic growth.
Professor Peter Halligan (Learned Society of Wales) and Dr Louise Bright (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) have authored a research report which provides a selective, historical overview covering the main reasons why, despite a range of initiatives over the past 20 years, this income target was never achieved. The authors argue that Welsh universities secured proportionally less research income from the high-spending science and medical research councils, in large part due to the historical shortfall of academic science and medical researchers working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) in Wales.
The report details this story over two decades right up to the launch and implementation of Welsh Government's Sêr Cymru initiative which has contributed £50m towards building a stronger science base in Wales capable of supporting its economic and national development.
In April, the Society submitted comments to the Nurse Review of Research Councils. The response from the Society argued that The Research Council system should continue to be sustained with key elements integral to the UK’s success –such as the Haldane principle, the prioritisation of excellence in funding decisions and the dual support system–maintained.
While acknowledging that RCs have taken steps to protect the science base, the society felt that the balance had swung too far in favour of directed research and that greater emphasis should be given to funding the best curiosity-driven. The Society’s response also voiced concerns from the Arts and Humanities regarding the increasing tendency to employ models from scientific investigation when constructing programmes.
The Society also argued that the Research Councils need to take more account of the policies of the devolved administrations and different arrangements within their HE sectors.
- The Diamond Review:
In the summer of 2014, the Society was invited to submit written evidence to the Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance Arrangements in Wales, chaired by Sir Diamond.
The Society's report was submitted to the panel on 8 January 2015, and representatives of the Society attended a meeting of the Review panel on 22 January.
The submission contains some new analysis and recommendations regarding the need to revise the current Higher Education fees policy, given the significant cross border flows of students, with a view to ensuring the long term sustainability of the sector.
- New Year’s Honours:
Professor Teresa Rees CBE FAcSS FLSW, of Cardiff University was awarded a Damehood in the 2015 New Year’s Honours for her services to Social Sciences. Professor Dame Teresa said: "As a social scientist, I am delighted by this honour which celebrates the contribution of social science to evidence-based policy and notes the importance of research on gender, social justice and equality."
The Society warmly congratulates Professor Dame Teresa.
The Learned Society of Wales, a company limited by guarantee, registered in Wales, No.7256948; Registered Charity No. 1141526
Registered office: The University Registry, King Edward VII Avenue, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NS