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The University of Southampton

Research Councils UK launches review of physics chaired by Southampton Vice-Chancellor

Published: 21 January 2008

Professor Bill Wakeham, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, is chairing the Research Councils UK (RCUK) fundamental review of the strength and role of UK physics which is launched today (21 January 2008).

The review, announced by Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson alongside the Science Budget allocations on 11 December 2007, seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of the health of UK physics and its role in underpinning research in many other disciplines.

Professor Wakeham said: 'I'm delighted to be asked to chair the RCUK Physics Review. This will be one of the most wide-ranging reviews of a research discipline ever undertaken in the UK. We are assembling an authoritative panel from the physics community from the UK and beyond to take on this challenging task. In doing so, we will be informed by the report on International Perceptions of UK Research in Physics and Astronomy but hope to broaden the scope of their coverage of the role of physics in our science base, the economy, society and healthcare.'

Speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, Professor Ian Diamond said: 'The Research Councils collectively spend around £500 million each year on physics, in many cases as part of multidisciplinary projects with the life and environmental sciences. It is therefore important that we take a long-term view of the subject's vitality. It will be the first of a series of reviews that will build on our existing work in monitoring the health of disciplines.'

The panel will seek the views of a range of individuals and organisations both inside and outside the physics research community. An announcement on how this will be undertaken will be made shortly.

The Review expects to be able to report in autumn 2008 to the RCUK Executive Group, comprising the chief executives of the seven Research Councils, who will make recommendations to the Minister of State.

Notes for editors

  • For more information about the Review visit:

  • The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.

  • The seven Research Councils are independent non-departmental public bodies, funded by the Science Budget through the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). They are incorporated by Royal Charter and together manage a research budget of around £2.8 billion a year.
    Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the partnership between the UK's seven Research Councils. Through RCUK, the Research Councils work together to champion the research, training and innovation they support.
    The seven UK Research Councils are:
    * Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    * Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    * Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC);
    * Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    * Medical Research Council (MRC);
    * Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    * Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC

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