Science departments under threat

August 22, 1997

University of Wales, Swansea, is reviewing the future of its chemistry and physics departments.

Peter Townsend, pro vice chancellor (administration), said this week: "We think collaboration with our sister institutions could provide a way forward. We want to look at possible ways of cutting duplication, of cooperation on research and on videoteaching."

He added: "Both departments have lost several members of staff to early retirement and there are the recruiting problems that are being seen nationally, although less so in chemistry. Both are also relatively small and we know that big is beautiful nowadays."

The departments have lost a quarter of their staff in this year's round of early retirements, reducing chemistry to 17 members and physics to ten, although some will continue on a part-time basis.

Professor Townsend said there was no question of either subject disappearing completely: "We need both subjects to support biology and engineering."

The chemistry department won a 3a rating in 1996. Physics was rated 4 but put in less than 80 per cent of its staff for assessment.

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