Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 16

Submission from Professor Pat Roche, Astrophysics, Oxford University

  I thought it would be helpful to summarise our estimates of the impact of the STFC funding cuts on the Physics Department at Oxford University. This is one of the largest Physics departments in the UK and has been rated 5* in the RAE exercises. The impact on us may not be completely representative of other departments, but is an indication of the effects of these cuts on a department that has programmes well aligned with the high priority areas identified by previous PPARC and STFC roadmaps.

  We estimate that Oxford Physics will lose 30-40 STFC-funded positions over the next 3 years. This will result in a loss of 25% to 33% of our grant income from STFC, and a loss of overhead to the Physics Department of £1.0 million to £1.5 million p.a.

  To put this into perspective, HEFCE has provided additional funds to Oxford Physics to support teaching of this `high cost and vulnerable laboratory-based subject'. The amount allocated by HEFCE to Oxford for physics is £772,000 p.a. for the next 3 years. The net losses to Physics from the STFC funding crisis could be more than twice this welcome HEFCE support.

  While the exact numbers will have to await the outcome of the STFC planning process, the financial impact on Oxford Physics is expected to be extremely serious. Coupled with the termination of whole research areas and the attendant loss of morale, this is indeed a disaster for Physics.

February 2008

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