STFC budget allocation: response from the Royal Astronomical Society
In the allocated budget, astronomy will receive resources declining from £77.3m in 2010-11 to £68.9m in 2014-15, which although a serious cut is in line with the existing delivery plan. Membership of the European Southern Observatory continues, however the UK will still have no access to optical telescopes in the northern hemisphere after 2012. The Drayson Review recommendations are implemented, meaning that STFC funding is now much less affected by fluctuations in the level of international subscriptions and by the need to operate facilities on behalf of other research councils.
Professor Roger Davies, President of the RAS, commented on the settlement:
"We welcome the continuation of ESO membership, the implementation of the Drayson Review and the newly announced scheme for early career researchers is also good news and allows researchers to continue to play a serious international role. We note that the Spending Review allocations have not caused any further damage to the financial position of UK astronomy.
Nonetheless, British astronomy still faces a decline in funding in the next few years, with much more limited opportunities for the postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers that are the lifeblood of research in the UK. The prospective removal of access to optical telescopes in the northern hemisphere is also deeply worrying. We therefore urge STFC and BIS, working with the astronomical community, including the RAS, to find a solution to these pressing issues for our research base."