Council on EPSRC’s 'shaping capability' initiative

25 November 2011

Meeting on 24 November, the Council of the Institute of Physics (IOP) noted that the President and staff of IOP, together with other science and engineering organisations, have been engaged over recent months in discussions and correspondence with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on their “Shaping Capability” initiative.

Council on EPSRC’s ‘shaping capability’ initiative

IOP’s concerns about this initiative were expressed in the news release issued on 21 July.

Council yesterday agreed the following statement:

“Throughout these discussions, IOP’s priorities have been to ensure that research excellence remains the key criterion for funding decisions, and that EPSRC engages directly with their research community in thorough, open and transparent consultations before introducing changes in the funding system.

“We are pleased that we now have a clear statement from EPSRC, set out in their letter to Nature of 7 November, confirming that research excellence will remain preeminent in assessing funding applications.

“We also welcome EPSRC’s intention to engage further with the research community. 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. We stress that EPSRC needs to retain the confidence of its research community. We will continue to engage with them to seek an appropriate structure and timescale for consultation.”