Future of PPARC
Should PPARC move 'lock,stock and barrel' into the proposed Large Facilities Council?
Gordon Brown's budget contains a discussion paper to take forward the Science Framework.The Chancellor wants to put science at the centre of the UK economy and education system. However among its suggestions is the abolition of PPARC viz.
PPARC currently has a role both as a grant-giving Research Council and as an investor in large facilities. This has created different funding arrangements for different parts of the physical sciences, the remainder being the responsibility of EPSRC. If the large facilities operations currently managed by PPARC were to be transferred to a new Large Facilities Council (LFC), this would be an opportunity to integrate PPARC’s grant-giving operations with EPSRC. This would effectively mean that a single Research Council (EPSRC) would have responsibility for the full spectrum of physical sciences funding, and would be of particular benefit to physics departments, which have faced difficulties in attaining long-term sustainability
The government see the LFC as a way of improving the UK's international competitiveness. PPARC appears to have accepted this; however the option of PPARC's grants portfolio moving into the LFC, rather than EPSRC, is being actively convassed.
What do you think? Would the disappearance of PPARC put astronomy research at risk, or are the proposed new arrangements an opportunity to protect ( even grow) its funding base?
Please let us know your views by contributing to the Forum discussion. The RAS plans to respond to the government's proposals by the end of May.
The discussion paper can be read in full here