Thursday, 16 February 2012

Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Well, there was I, popcorn in hand, ready to watch it all kick off after the EPSRC's announcement of the latest runners and riders in the 'Shaping Capability' sweepstakes. Imagine my disappointment at the muted response from the sector. What, no angry letters to The Times? No resignations? Surely some mistake?

The response could, of course, be because the EPSRC has effectively dodged the bullet by (a) only looking at a relatively small number of areas, (b) saying that only two of these will be cut. They had learnt, I think, from their experience with the first tranche of disciplines, when there was a strong backlash against the Council's actions. This time both Research Fortnight and The Times Higher were struggling to find dissidents to rail against the EPSRC. Prof Neal Skipper from UCL suggested that one of the areas to be cut, Hydrogen Storage, was not at a mature stage of development, as the EPSRC Chief David 'Derek Smalls' Delpy seemed to suggest. But that was pretty much it.

The rest seemed to shrug and move on. Even Twitter, the medium of choice for hysterics, was relatively subdued about it. Which is all very disappointing. I'll put my popcorn away until the main feature later in the year, when a decision on the remaining 51 areas (out of a total 111) will be made. There's sure to be fireworks then.

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