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Physics institute slams Reading over dept closure

'Ill-judged and precipitous'

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The Institute of Physics (IoP) has slammed Reading University's decision to shut its Physics department, saying the closure will waste £5m of public money that the department had attracted in grants and investments.

IoP chief executive Dr Bob Kirby Harris is scheduled to meet with Reading's vice chancellor today to discuss the decision. He is expected to urge Professor Marshall to reconsider and keep the department going.

Professor Peter Main, director of science at the IoP, described the decision to close the department as "ill-judged and precipitous".

"Academics in the department have been successful in attracting over £5m in investment in the last few years – money that will be wasted if the department is forced to close." he said.

He argued that if Reading's physics department was to close it would undermine the country's long-term science strategy, as outlined in the "Next Steps" document published in March 2006.

"How can we have a meaningful long-term strategy when a university vice-chancellor can make a unilateral decision in this way?" he asked. ®

In the last few years, Reading University's physics department has secured the following grants:

  • Centre of excellence for teaching and learning (consortium with Leicester & Open University), total investment £2.4m of which £1m was based at Reading (HEFCE)
  • Ultra Fast Laser Laboratory £1m (HEFCE)
  • Nano science centre £200,000 (Royal Society)
  • Centre for Advanced Microscopy £1.5m (SRIF)
  • Refurbishing undergraduate laboratories £300,000 (SRIF)
  • Current EPSRC contracts with six new grants in physics (since Oct 2005) £1.7m

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