Royal Society of Chemistry continues to press EPSRC to ensure competitive British science community

15 May 2012

Today's protest by scientists outside Parliament highlights some significant concerns about the direction the EPSRC is, and has been, taking.

The Royal Society of Chemistry last week met with representatives of the protest group and identified some key areas of shared concern, including postgraduate studentships, research fellowships and the ability to resubmit research proposals. We are particularly worried about changes in support for postgraduate studentships, through the impact this will have on the structure of the chemical sciences community and on the types of chemistry that will be investigated. 

Equally, the restriction on the ability to apply for research fellowships has major implications for early career researchers, setting up a 'haves' and 'have nots' duality, and on the hiring strategy of individual departments. The EPSRC approach is not just set to shape research but the nature of departments; the impact therefore is not just on research but on teaching also. These matters are not marginal; they are critical to the future economic wellbeing of the country.

For Britain to climb out of recession and to prosper against accelerating international competition we must have a vibrant broad chemical science base in our universities. 

Through their joint report The Economic Benefits of Chemistry the Royal Society of Chemistry and the EPSRC have already made the point to the government that chemistry contributes 258 billion, or 21 per cent, to the country's GDP.  

For this level of success to be maintained we have to ensure that funding for, and access to, research is fair and reasonable and we are committed to pressing the EPSRC to achieve that aim. 
On several occasions the RSC has raised the need with the  EPSRC for it to engage fully with the chemical sciences community as it developed its Shaping Capability programme. 

It is essential that the EPSRC supports and develops a vibrant and vital chemistry community, and the research council must ensure it follows a path that enables it to take with it the scientists who are active and central to the future of UK chemistry and the economy. The RSC is committed to working with both the chemical science community and the research council to ensure we continue to have the dynamic chemistry community that the UK needs.

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