Art of science management

May 22, 2008

The greatest damage to the community's trust in the Science and Technology Facilities Council has been self-inflicted. Its embattled chief executive's public denial of the scale of the cuts and his evidence to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee led MPs to call for "substantial and urgent changes" to "restore confidence".

"Lamentable communications" highlighted by the MPs' report and the lack of specialist advisory panels could be attributed to the youth of the STFC. But the hasty withdrawal from long-term international projects without proper consultation was inexcusable, since a flat-cash settlement had necessarily formed the basis for STFC's forward-planning assumptions. As Keith Mason knows only too well, "it is a mistake to think that excellent scientists will automatically make good managers" ("Blue skies and sterling support", 24 April).

Of course, Mason would not have been put under such intense scrutiny had the Treasury's settlement been more generous. Partial responsibility for the physics funding crisis rests with Government, regardless of any disputed legacy issues. Physicists now await the Government's response to the MPs' recommendations after such unwelcome and unnecessary distractions.

Paul Crowther, University of Sheffield.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

man asleep in crowd

But professor says Trump presidency might now provide ‘incentive’ for junior scholars to ask ‘important questions’