Two Westminster platforms this week for "vital chemical sciences" message
28 February 2005
The future of chemical sciences at universities in England will be spotlighted on two Westminster stages this week.
The Royal Society of Chemistry will on Wednesday give oral evidence at a House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on the need to protect the chemical sciences at universities.
While on Tuesday the Society will bring together politicians and scientists at an event entitled Science and the General Election. The event will involve the country's most prestigious science and engineering organisations while spokespersons from political parties will be present to summarise their science policy and to respond to questions.
Dr Simon Campbell, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said today: "This week is an excellent opportunity for us to promote the critical nature of chemistry and to present the primary case that more funding must be found to avoid any further erosion of chemical sciences."
In November and December the Royal Society of Chemistry pressed home dramatically the threat to chemical sciences upon hearing of the University of Exeter's plan to axe its department to avert a corporate budget deficit, a move which sparked a national debate about the importance of science in higher education.
As a result of this high profile Education Secretary Charles Clarke urged universities to support important subjects; and it was announced that a Commons Science and Technology Select Committee would examine the issue of strategic science provision in the English universities.
Dr Campbell added: "In written evidence to the committee we have already said that UK chemical science provision is at a critical point, stressing that it holds the key to future developments in areas such as conservation of natural resources, new medicines, new materials and new energy sources."
"We added that inadequate support for teaching chemistry has led to the cost-driven closure of a number of university chemistry departments without regard to regional or national needs. We stressed that the current funding formula is flawed and that urgent action is required to redress the balance."
"I expect that during questioning on Wednesday there will be an opportunity to reiterate our case that the chemical sciences are vital to the health and wealth of the nation, and to drive home some of the major points that we have already made in writing to the Select Committee."
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