Feeds

Science, engineering PhDs to drop by a third

Sadly other things were inside the ring-fence with them

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The number of government-funded science and engineering PhDs will be reduced by a third by 2013 as cuts eat into scientific research.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) stumps up the cash for 10,900 PhD places, but will cut this figure to 7,000, a reduction of 36 per cent, the Head of the EPSRC told Parliament's Science and Technology Committee today.

Professor David Delpy of the EPSRC explained that they were back on the same budget that they had in 2004 when they funded 6,700 students, suggesting that the council wasn't specifically penalising PhD research but just dealing with a reduced budget.

Despite ring-fencing the bulk of the science and technology budget for the next four years, research is one of several areas that will get squeezed as other priorities are protected. Cost overruns at major "big science" facilities such as the Diamond synchrotron (run by the Science and Technology Research Council as opposed to the EPSRC) in recent years have previously been blamed for cutbacks in research places.

Not all science and engineering PhDs in the UK are funded by the EPSRC; many get money from industry partnerships - a number that MPs hope to increase.

In reply to a question from the Science and Technology Committee asking if the squeeze on postgraduate places would trigger a brain drain of talented British students out of the UK, the universities minister David Willetts said that he hoped that key research would stay in the UK, but that the flow of students was two-way and that the UK benefitted from an influx of talented scientists.

Grilled on business and industry reactions to the cuts in PhDs, Willetts brought up the new focus on centres for doctoral training, where researchers spend 75 per cent of their time in industrial settings.

Willetts reiterated his priorities for scientific research over the next few years: "Ageing, global warming, and energy."

"Alongside curiosity-driven research, these big challenges must take centre stage," he said.

He quickly added that he had merely expressed his interest in these areas rather than actively using his powers to push any particular projects forward. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.