Call for urgent university science funding at Select Committee hearing
The President of the Royal Society of Chemistry today told a House of Commons Select Committee that more money was needed urgently to solve the immediate threat to England's university chemistry departments.
Dr Simon Campbell said during questioning by the Select Committee on Science and Technology: "Chemistry department cuts are largely cost-driven and represent a very serious threat to this country's education and economy."
Dr Campbell, a career researcher in drug discovery and development, was one of a panel of witnesses representing higher education and Learned Societies during a session examining provision of subjects of strategic importance at universities.
The Select Committee was charged with enquiring into strategic provision of teaching and research in SET subjects following an announcement by Exeter University a few weeks ago that it was to shut its chemistry department to avert a large corporate deficit.
The RSC had, on hearing of the Exeter decision, stepped up its campaign to persuade the Government that greater funding must be made available so that vice-chancellors were not faced with the temptation of cutting chemistry, acknowledged to be more expensive to teach than many other subjects.
Focusing on the current university funding system Dr Campbell referred to the "very steep cliff" at the top of which highly-rated chemistry departments received dramatically greater funds than those placed precariously below by the last Research Assessment Exercise.
Kings College London, he said, closed its chemistry department in 2003 and as a consequence missed out last month on a major medical research centre contract by not being able to display a broader range of science provision.
Contact and Further Information
Media Relations Manager
Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7440 3317 or +44 (0) 7966 939257
Fax: +44 (0)20 7437 8883