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Senate Comments on Proposed Closure of Physics – University of Reading

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Senate Comments on Proposed Closure of Physics

Release Date 12 October 2006

The University of Reading Senate yesterday (Wednesday October 11 2006) discussed the proposal to close the Department of Physics and voted to support the proposal. Senate voted by a majority of 36 to 16, with eight abstentions, that whilst regretting the recommendations in regard to the Department of Physics, it recognised the financial realities of the situation and had been unable to identify any practical alternatives. Teaching and research in some aspects of physics will continue to be a significant presence at Reading, due to activities in meteorology, environmental science, soil science, systems engineering, archaeology, nano-science and physical chemistry. Gordon Marshall, Vice Chancellor of the University, said: "It is important to emphasize here the continuing commitment of the University to the sciences in general and also to underline our contribution to the science base of the UK as a whole. We have during the past three years increased the number of students studying science subjects at Reading, from approximately 3,900 to more than 4,350. "We have opened a new and successful School of Pharmacy, have maintained the volume of our teaching activity in Agriculture and Chemistry at a time when national recruitment to these areas has been in decline and have been granted – and achieved – additional student numbers in Chemistry, Pharmacy and Mathematics. Among other 'strategically important and vulnerable subjects' which we support are Chemistry, Electronic Engineering, Land-Based Subjects and Modern Languages. "We are a medium-sized research university. In an increasingly difficult resource environment, we cannot continue to support all of the science and technology disciplines in which we may have been involved in the past, unless the funding for these activities improves and in some cases the pattern of student demand changes." In response to claims that up to £5 million* of public money has been wasted, Professor Marshall added: "Infrastructural investment in this area has been in facilities which are not specific to physics, and include investment in scientific equipment with a much wider application, and in generic laboratory provision." Ends * • Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (consortium with Leicester and Open University), total investment £2.4M of which £1M was based at Reading (HEFCE) - the CETL will continue as the funding is commensurate with the timings of the proposed closure of physics. • UltraFast Laser Laboratory £1M (HEFCE) – this is a University facility which will continue to be used by science researchers across the University • Nano science £200,000 (Royal Society) - this is an activity which takes place only partly in the department of physics • Centre for Advanced Microscopy £1.5M (SRIF) - this is not part of the department of physics and will remain open • Refurbishing undergraduate laboratories £300,000 (SRIF) - these labs will continue to be used by science students and will remain open • Current EPSRC contracts with six new grants in physics (since Oct 2005) £1.7M – research will be completed to the usual standard For more information contact Lucy Ferguson, Senior Press Officer, at: L.Ferguson@reading.ac.uk

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