Research council mergers

Megan mentioned that the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) may be merged with the CCLRC. This is a recommendation of a Treasury report that suggests that the funding for large facilities (e.g. ESO, CERN, MERLIN, Daresbury and RAL) be combined into a Large Facilities Council (LFC). The report says:

PPARC currently has a role both as a grant-giving Research Council and as an investor in large facilities. This has created different funding arrangements for different parts of the physical sciences, the remainder being the responsibility of EPSRC. If the large facilities operations currently managed by PPARC were to be transferred to a new LFC, this would be an opportunity to integrate PPARC’s grant-giving operations with EPSRC. This would effectively mean that a single Research Council (EPSRC) would have responsibility for the full spectrum of physical sciences funding, and would be of particular benefit to physics departments, which have faced difficulties in attaining long-term sustainability. This change would create new synergies and simplify the existing institutional landscape among the Research Councils.

This move would place astronomy and particle physics research in direct competition with the rest of the physical sciences for money. I would expect this to mean that it will be harder to get a particular research project funded, as the competition for the limited funds is greatly increased. It will also mean that the new EPSRC will have to develop a plan/road-map for the whole of engineering, physics and astronomy; a pretty huge field. Can one funding council do this alone while maintaining the breadth and depth of research in the UK?

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Friday 24th Mar 2006 (09:09 AEST) | Permalink
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