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Cancel of STFC Large Award: RAS Response (Public)

Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 15:51
Published on Monday, 22 March 2010 15:51

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the body which funds most astronomy and space science in the UK, has cancelled a key part of its public engagement activity.

Due to the ongoing financial situation at the Council, there will be no Large Awards available in 2009 although STFC ‘hopes to resume this scheme’ next year. Until now the Large Awards offered up to £100000 for public engagement projects which had a significant regional or national impact.

RAS President Professor Andy Fabian expressed his concern at the possible demise of the scheme. He commented, “Astronomy inspires people of all backgrounds. In particular it is an excellent way to interest and attract young people to study and pursue careers in the physical sciences.

‘Astronomers and space scientists have used the relatively small sums available from STFC to devise innovative and effective public engagement projects which connected the public with the world-class research carried out in this country. At the very least it allows them to see how their taxes were spent and more often helps foster a real dialogue between some of the UK’s leading scientists and the society they live in.

‘In an era when politicians from all three main parties are talking of the need to rebalance the UK economy and strengthen the science base, initiatives that encourage people to pursue careers in science and technology are more important than ever before. For STFC-funded scientists, the decision to cancel this autumn’s Large Awards funding round will curtail much of their contribution to that goal and I very much hope that it can be resurrected in 2010.”