How to save UK university science

Politicians suggest focusing research in regional hubs to stem tide of department closures

Stephen Pincock(Stephen@thescientisteurope.com)
Apr 6, 2005

England needs to rethink its system of funding university science in order to safeguard the provision of core subjects like chemistry and physics, an influential committee of politicians said today (April 7). Their report, which urges greater cooperation among institutions, got a mixed response from the science and university communities.

Prompted by a spate of high-profile department closures, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has been investigating university science teaching since last December. Their report notes that universities are suffering from falling student demand for science, compounded by a funding system that concentrates research in a small number of departments.

In place of a winner-takes-all system in which all of England's 130 universities compete for research and teaching funds, each university should be encouraged to play to its strengths, the report suggests. The politicians propose a "hub and spokes" model in which each region has at least one...