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RAS PN 08/49: RAS welcomes Wakeham support for astronomy and geophysics

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 15:15
Published on Thursday, 02 October 2008 00:00
The RAS has welcomed the findings of the RCUK Review of the Health of Physics, which calls for UK support for physics (including astronomy, space science and geophysics) that allows British scientists to compete with their peers overseas.

For immediate release

Date: 2nd October 2008
Ref.: PN 08/49

Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
Press and Policy Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)794 124 8035, +44 (0)20 7734 4582
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RAS website:


The Royal Astronomical Society has given its broad support to the findings of the Review of the Health of Physics, commissioned by Research Councils UK and published by a panel led by Professor Bill Wakeham of Southampton University.

The Wakeham Review panel (which included two fellows of the RAS, Professors Martin Barstow and Carlos Frenk) was set up in the wake of last year’s science funding crisis. At that time an £80m shortfall hit the budget of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the body responsible for funding UK research in astronomy.

The RAS was delighted to see the Review acknowledge the strength of UK astronomy and space science, for example with the recognition that British research work in these areas has the second highest number of citations in the world. The Society also welcomed the clear statement that basic research in the UK should be funded at a level needed to maintain our international standing in this area.

RAS President Professor Andy Fabian commented, “I’m delighted to see that Bill Wakeham and his team have carried out such a wide-ranging and thorough review of physics and astronomy. His panel have made some clear and positive recommendations that we are largely happy to support. We very much hope that Government will implement them in the near future to prevent the funding problems we experienced last year from happening again in the future.”

Key Wakeham recommendations supported by the RAS include:

- Ensuring that physics in schools is taught by those trained in the subject
- Working to improve the take-up of physics beyond the age of 16 by women and students from a diverse range of social and ethnic backgrounds
- Broadening the Council of STFC to include more science stakeholders
- Setting up an advisory group to ensure there are no unintended consequences from future funding allocations
- Transferring some of the research undertaken in Solar-Terrestrial Physics (STP) from STFC to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)


Professor Andy Fabian
President, Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1V 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / +44 (0)1223 337509
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.