Unease remains over EPSRC’s ‘shaping capability’ deadline

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has been warned that the deadline set for final decisions on its controversial “shaping capabilities” programme may be too tight to allow the necessary consultation with researchers.

November 25, 2011

Academics working in fields overseen by the EPSRC have been up in arms about the approach, which will decide whether to grow or shrink research areas on the basis of their national importance, as well as existing excellence and capacity.

In an attempt to quell the anger, the EPSRC has pledged to work more closely with learned societies on implementing the programme.

However, in a statement released today, the Institute of Physics says that while it is pleased that the research council has “confirmed that research excellence will remain preeminent in assessing funding allocation”, it still has concerns.

“We welcome the EPSRC’s intention to engage further with the research community,” the statement says.

“We have indicated our willingness to facilitate this process by helping to identify physicists with the knowledge and expertise to advise EPSRC on the issues involved.

“However, there is no clarity on the precise form of consultation proposed by EPSRC, in particular whether it will be sufficiently comprehensive in its reach to gather views from all those affected by the proposed changes.

“We remain concerned that EPSRC’s commitment to announce final decisions by March 2012 may not allow a realistic timescale for all views to be taken into account.”

The EPSRC could not be contacted for comment.

john.gill@tsleducation.com

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