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UK university chemistry plan criticized

Committee of politicians says something must be done to strengthen oversight of university science

Stephen Pincock
Members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee held an emergency evidence session yesterday (March 27) to question University of Sussex vice chancellor Alasdair Smith and head of chemistry Gerry Lawless about proposals to close the university's chemistry department.The influential group of politicians criticized the plans, and the chair of the committee said today that he would make a report to the government calling for stronger oversight of science in universities."It was a good session," the committee's chairman Phil Willis, told The Scientist. Under questioning, he said, Smith "quite frankly revealed that this was an ill-thought out proposal with no commercial merit and no academic merit that clearly needed to go back to the drawing board."The session, conducted in front of a standing-room audience, heard that Sussex had been subjecting its chemistry faculty to a kind of malign neglect over recent years, Willis said.For example, Willis...

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