Wednesday, 20 October 2010

CSR: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

The dust has not yet settled, but the commentators are already trying to work out whether the Comprehensive Spending Review was good, bad, or indifferent for research in the UK. It's certainly a lot better than some of the scare stories we heard beforehand, which suggests that the government was canny in managing expectations.

In the Review it stated that 'a ring-fence will be maintained by BIS to ensure continuity of investment in science and research.' Which sounds good, until you realise that that will mean a 10% cut in real terms. The only area whose budget will be maintained in real terms is the MRC, as the government has made Health a priority.

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as everyone concerned with UK research dares to look again at government funding. Both Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, and Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case), have cautiously welcomed the news.

However, there are still some nerves jangling out there, and we're not out the woods yet. We have to see the detail, and the effect the cuts will have on QR funding. Will it lead to a concentration of funding on research intensive (i.e. Russell Group) universities? Is STFC for the chop? The next few months and weeks will tell.

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