UK Research Council Changes

In the UK, the Government body which deals with astronomy and space science is the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC). Well it was, but following a decision by the government's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), this role will soon be taken into the newly emerging Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). This new body is being formed from PPARC, the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and the nuclear physics bit of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Apart from all the acronyms changing, what does it mean? Well, according to the DTI, it will

increase the competitiveness and the scientific and economic impact of UK science by funding the best research within its grant-giving remit, by enabling the research community to have access to the best facilities in the world, by exerting greater leadership and leverage in the development and implementation of strategies for large research facilities and by increasing the UK technology capability, engagement with industry and knowledge transfer

Sounds good. Will they pull it off? Possibly. Will it result in more funding? Well, the claim is that the funding levels for the next financial year will remain equal to the sum of the parts, but of course future funding could go up or down (possibly down if the Treasury are involved). What I haven't worked out is if, in practice, particular research areas will lose out to more flashy or flavour-of-the-month-with-the-government projects. Also, will the new council be orientated towards huge projects at the expense of smaller ones? Will it have the same commitment to explaining its science (education and engagement) as the existing councils do? I really hope so.

At least the new research council won't be embarrassed if their acronym is reversed, unlike PPARC.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 07th Feb 2007 (11:24 GMT) | Permalink
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