Submission from Professor Stephen Hill,
Principal, Royal Holloway, University of London
STFC FUNDING CRISIS
I am writing to indicate my concern over the
funding Crisis in STFC.
ISIS and Diamond are major national resources
for national and international research programmes. They act as
a magnet for the best international researchers, and underpin
some of the best UK research in condensed matter physics.
At Royal Holloway we are extremely concerned
about the impact of possible cuts to ISIS and Diamond, resulting
from the STFC funding crisis. We are concerned not only by the
consequent impact on this research agenda, but also that on Physics
Departments in the region. The status of Physics as a strategically
important and vulnerable subject is well recognised. Proposed
cuts to STFC simply undermine the positive steps that are being
The following details give examples of important
activities which are potentially under threat:
The Department of Physics at Royal Holloway
has established as a key part of its research strategy the development
of strong links with ISIS and DIAMOND.
We are involved in setting up a regional consortium
(SEPNET), which is in the process of applying to HEFCE Strategic
Development Fund, with the objective of ensuring the sustainability
of Physics in the region.
This has as a key part of its proposal the establishment
of a strategic partnership with ISIS and Diamond fuelled by a
number of jointly funded posts. Office space at the RAL campus
will foster this partnership. Together with other actions proposed
by SEPNET, on student training, employer engagement and outreach,
we intend to work together to promote the knowledge transfer agenda
and the regional economy.
There has been substantial investment in equipment
for materials discovery, both in universities and at RAL. It is
vital that we are able to take advantage of this investment, since
it will enable UK scientists to develop new materials and set
the agenda in condensed matter research.
In addition Royal Holloway is partnering with
ISIS and Diamond, to establish a Centre for the Theory of Condensed
Matter, spearheaded by a Chair at RHUL. This addresses weaknesses
highlighted in the International Review of Physics 2005. The Centre
would promote the interaction of theorists and experimentalists
in a subject that is unarguably key to new device technologies.
It would link strongly and coordinate with other regional partners,
including London Centre for Nanotechnology and the National Physical
Laboratory, providing a unique resource.
These examples serve to illustrate that the
major central facilities of ISIS and Diamond are not only jewels
in the crown of UK science, but also serve to promote (through
their international excellence) the wider health of scientific
disciplines and the regional and national economy. The synergies
between these central facilities and universities are likely to
be of crucial future importance, and we urge that they are protected
at all costs.