STFC Budget - Select Committee Review (2008)

The RAS, jointly with the Institute of Physics, urges the government to allow STFC

  • to put the implementation of its Delivery Plan on ice until after the health of disciplines review of physics (the Wakeham review) has reported later in 2008
  • to ensure a revised Delivery Plan has scientific priorities which have been developed in full consultation with the community

Ahead of his appearance before the DIUS select committee on January 21, The President of the RAS, Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, together with the IoP, has submitted a statement to the committee. It notes

  • STFC will have to cut £80m from its planned programme of activity over the CSR period, which will have devastating consequences for many of its science areas. STFC’s Delivery Plan announced a 25% cut to grants, which will lead to a loss of millions of pounds in research income (of up to £750k) for many physics departments which will threaten their financial viability.
  • The cut will result in research project cancellations and a significant cut to rolling grants, which will affect the projects of all STFC user communities (e.g. astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, etc.), and lead to redundancies at STFC operated facilities at the Daresbury Laboratory, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and the Astronomy Technology Centre.
  • Uncertainties raised about the long-term prospects for physics may lead to a reduction in the attractiveness of physics undergraduate, MSc and PhD programmes and of physics as a long-term career path. A reduction in the number of students choosing physics would have implications not only for the financial viability of physics departments, but also for the long-term competitiveness of the UK’s economy.
  • Reneging on existing commitments without prior consultation will damage the UK’s reputation as a leading player in international collaborations.
The 25% cut in grants will pose severe financial constraints to many physics departments. Accordingly, the Institute and the Society urge DIUS to provide the £80m shortfall in STFC’s budget, or at least £20m to allow STFC’s planned programme to continue until after the Wakeham review has reported.

In addition increases in the running costs of major facilities should be allocated to the research councils who make the most use of facilities. In the case of the Diamond Light Source and ISIS, users are largely outside of the STFC funded community. It is not fair that core funding of physics grants should be affected by increased activity in, for example, the study of medical materials.

Finally, the Institute and the Society are concerned that the arrangements for compensating for changes in international subscriptions have reverted to STFC. DIUS should revert to the practice of providing protection against changes in exchange rates and net national income from a departmental reserve.

STFC budget - RAS Iop Submission.doc

pdf_small IOP-RAS Science Budget Allocations FINAL.pdf (411.81 KB)