Thursday, 22 October 2009

How Do We Solve a Problem Like Dave Willetts?

In an interesting commentary Research Fortnight (RF) examines the problem of David Willetts. Cameron wants smart, knowledgable people in his cabinet, but Willetts has no natural home in a structure that shadows Brown's government. The obvious thing to do would be to put him within a shadow BIS under Clarke, but that would demote him from the top table. So he's got the role of Education, albeit without a department to shadow. This would be rectified, says RF, after a Tory election win, when a Department of Education would be resurrected to give Willetts his own fiefdom.
With this in mind, RF make a brave attempt at second-guessing what Willett's priorities would be, and come up with a list that includeds social mobility, tuition fees and teaching. Which leaves the electorally unsexy area of research to bear the brunt of any budget cuts. As the article drily points out, 'for the research community it’s just a case of waiting for the axe to fall.'
However, it sees glimmers of hope: 'in the details lie potentially huge victories for researchers to win,' particularly in R&D tax breaks and (it hopes) Research Councils remaining relatively unscathed. 'For researchers, there is still a lot to play for,' it concludes.
The full article is available here; Kent is subscribed to ResearchResearch, but you will need to sign up to it to access the news.

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