Alarm Bells at STFC
The financial catastrophe engulfing the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has suddenly reared its (very ugly) head again.
Here is a statement posted yesterday on their webpage.
STFC Council policy on grants
STFC Council examined progress of its current science and technology prioritisation exercise at a strategy session on 21 and 22 September. Without prejudging the outcome of the prioritisation, Council agreed that prudent financial management required a re-examination of upcoming grants.
Council therefore agreed that new grants will be issued only to October 2010 in the first instance. This temporary policy is in place pending the outcome of the prioritisation exercise, expected in the New Year.
According to the e-astronomer the STFC has written to all Vice-chancellors and Principals of UK universities to tell them about this move. I gather the intention is that this measure will be temporary, but it looks deeply ominous to me. Those of us whose rolling grant requests for 5 years from April 2010 are currently being assessed face the possibility of receiving grants for only 6 months of funding. On the other hand, I’m told that what is more likely is that our grant won’t be announced until January or February, after the hitlist prioritisation exercise has been completed in the New Year. Hardest hit will be the particle physicists whose rolling grants start on 1st October 2009 (tomorrow), which will have only a year’s funding on them…
It seems that STFC has finally realised the scale of its budgetary problems and payback time is looming. I honestly think we could be doomed…