Monthly Archives: August 2011

Dirigisme — aka Shaping Capability — update

The LMS has started a blog for comments on the EPSRC Shaping Capability scheme. There are already several solid contributions. (Comments also continue on Tim Gowers’s blog.)

On the LMS blog, Ken Brown notes that Frank Kelly wrote to David Cameron, UK prime minister, on Wednesday about EPSRC. In that letter, it’s mentioned that Frank Kelly wrote to David Willetts last week requesting a meeting in order to discuss EPSRC. (Ken Brown is vice president of the LMS. Frank Kelly is chair of the Council for Mathematical Sciences. David Willetts is government minister for universities and science.)

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EPSRC dirigisme and the chemists

In pursuit of its Shaping Capability ambitions, the EPSRC announced that, in the mathematical sciences, only fellowships in statistics and probability will be funded.

Similar — though seemingly less drastic — “shaping” is taking place in EPSRC funding for chemistry, with (for example) cuts to synthetic organic chemistry and expanded funding in favored areas. At the end of July, the Royal Society of Chemistry reported on the changes:

In consultation with stakeholders, the EPSRC has set about prioritising specific research areas. The research council has categorised their grant portfolio into a number of sub-areas and decided whether to ‘grow’, ‘maintain’ or ‘reduce’ funding support. The fate of only a few sub-disciplines have been announced so far and further decisions are expected over the next eight months. Synthetic organic chemistry is one of the losers and will see its support cut, while catalysis will get extra money.

Full RSC story is: here.

This week, over 100 senior chemists responded to the EPSRC funding scheme with a letter to the Prime Minister that criticizes the scheme and, in particular, the lack of consultation that preceded its announcement. The Guardian has the story: here. This story links to the full text of the letter.

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