Closure threatens marine centre

June 28, 1996

A national marine biological station has warned that it faces closure because of budget cuts from the funding councils.

John Davenport, director of the University Marine Biological Station Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae, said it could be destroyed by "misguided bureaucratic decisions" to cut non-formula funding.

The funding councils are set to reduce the Pounds 400,000 the station receives over the next four years. The station is expected to be largely self-sufficent by the year 2000, but Professor Davenport said this would undermine the station's ability to win external income.

Non-formula funding has already been transferred to the core funding of the University of Wales at Bangor and Liverpool University, the parent institutions for the marine stations at Menai Bridge and Port Erin.

The station was set up in 1970 by London and Glasgow universities, but is now a national resource used by more than 30 higher education colleges. It runs courses for about 14 per cent of all biology students in the country, and relies heavily on funds for teaching and research overheads from both English and Scottish funding councils.

The station has opposed diverting non-formula funding to user departments, arguing that these vary from year to year. Unlike the other two stations, it teaches large numbers of students for short periods, and says that institutions would not tolerate a drastic increase in student fees at a time when many biology departments are facing a 25 per cent budget cut.

Consultants Touche Ross have reported that the station was well-managed and cost-effective, and recommended at least partial continuation of non-formula funding.

An English funding council spokesman said it was committed to providing Pounds 41,000 next year, but funding for future years would be reviewed annually.

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