Funding decisions must be based on science needs not short-term cost cutting


Funding decisions must be based on science needs not short-term cost cutting

Any withdrawal from research programmes must be based on scientific criteria and not on short-term cost cutting, says Prospect. The union was responding to the five-year science prioritisation strategy from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, on behalf of UK physicists and astronomers in STFC research facilities.

Prospect is therefore very concerned that innovative new projects, such as the New Light Source, have effectively been cancelled.

Sue Ferns, head of Prospect research, said: “We welcome Lord Drayson’s assertion that the government is looking towards a lasting solution to resolve tensions between the need to fund international subscriptions and maintain key facilities as well as awarding research grants.

“It is important to establish a secure funding programme, but this must be on the basis of an open and transparent assessment of scientific priority and proper consultation with staff, rather than ad hoc transfers of money from one research pot to another in a patchwork fashion.

“The government’s report ‘New Industry New Jobs’ highlights how vital the role scientific research and innovation is in bringing about economic recovery and success.

"Yet STFC has already received advice that future funding levels for nuclear physics research could be too low to maintain capability. Therefore government must ensure that the positive rhetoric is backed by investment to ensure delivery.”

Prospect is working closely with STFC management and is due to meet again in mid-January to discuss more detailed plans for the programme of managed withdrawal set out in the prioritisation strategy.