Archive for Advanced Fellowships

Advanced Fellowships

Posted in Science Politics with tags , , , on July 11, 2009 by telescoper

This is just a quick Newsflash that UK Astronomers will be  interested in (and depressed by). My attention was drawn to it yesterday by Frazer Pearce of Nottingham.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has decided in its finite wisdom to cut in half the number of Advanced Fellowships (AFs) it awards each year, that is from 12 to 6, that number to cover all of Astronomy and Particle Physics.

These fellowships are awarded to researchers who do not have a permanent position but wish to pursue research, and are designed to further the careers of individuals with outstanding potential. They last 5 years – longer than the usual 2-3 year postdoctoral positions and have been for many a scientist an important stepping-stone to an academic career. A very large fraction of my colleagues who have permanent positions were awarded one of these fellowships when they were run by PPARC (including Frazer), as was I myself but, being an Oldie, mine was even pre-PPARC so was in fact given by SERC. Of course the fact that they gave me one doesn’t itself serve as much of a recommendation for continuing them, but it is worth drawing attention to the huge amount of  high quality research done in the UK by holders of these Fellowships.

A number of people have expressed to me their shock at this decision but it doesn’t surprise me at all. For one thing, it’s an open secret that STFC considers the academic community in these areas to be too large so the last thing it wants is more people getting permanent jobs through the AF route.  In any case, STFC’s prime concern is with facilities, not with scientific research.

Who needs half a dozen top class scientists when you can have Moonlite instead?