Funding cuts: is chemistry exempted or not?

09 January 2008

The Royal Society of Chemistry is asking for clarification of a remark last night by education minister Bill Rammell when he said that chemistry was to be "exempted" from Government cuts in education funding.

His remark, on the BBC Radio 4 programme PM, appears to contradict policy in a funding paper produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Mr Rammell, the lifelong learning minister, was being questioned about the Government's decision to withdraw future funding for students studying at levels equivalent to or below their existing first degree.

RSC chief executive Richard Pike said today: "The Government wants to channel the money saved into funding people taking their first degrees, but the RSC joins others who are claiming that this contradicts established policy, which is to encourage retraining and re-skilling throughout people's careers, especially in subjects of strategic importance, like chemistry.

"In the funding document on which the interview was based there are named exemptions for certain subjects, including medicine and teaching, but chemistry is not on that list. The paper does say, however, that chemistry will receive a 'targeted allocation', which will not cover any increase in students studying on a part-time or distance learning basis - something which will be necessary if we are to re-equip today's workers with tomorrow's skills.                                 

"This new government policy of ditching financial support for such people will fly directly in the face of current thinking and is made worse by the apparent confusion that exists over which subjects are exempt and which are not."

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