RAS reaction to CCLRC-PPARC paper
RAS urges CCLRC-PPARC to change their emphasis from facilities management to science
The RAS Council has forwarded the following statement to the CEOs of PPARC and CCLRC
'The RAS notes with satisfaction that the joint CCLRC-PPARC response to the Consultation Exercise 'next steps' encompasses several of the principles and points set out in the RAS's own response, for example:
* that the merged Council should be a Research Council and should be science-driven
* that emphasis should be placed on long-term planning and strategy and that the Council should be advised by a Science Committee
* that there should be a strong emphasis on peer review
* that the funding for exploitation of facilities through grants should remain in the same Research Council as the operation of those facilities and strategic planning for new ones
However the RAS found the document was unbalanced, overemphasizing facilities and their management, rather than the science that drives the need for these facilities. Astronomy and solar system science are not actually mentioned in the Executive Summary, even though they represent about half of the current activities of PPARC.
The main strength of UK astronomy and space science resides in the universities and this is evidenced by the fact that all of the 27 UK scientists who appear on the ISI list of Highly Cited Researchers in 'Space Sciences' (which includes astronomy) work in university groups. University researchers need a clearer statement about how their activities will be supported within the new Council and, specifically, whether the grant line that they depend on for their work would be safeguarded by the Council.
We would urge the Government to ensure that any new Council makes delivery of science its raison d'etre, and that it should be clearly charged with supporting university groups who actually generate this science.'