Whither Science and Universities in the U.K.?

Education officials, scientists, and politicians continue to buzz about last week's sudden demise of the U.K.'s Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the shift of its remit to a newly created Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Times Higher Education reports on a House of Lords debate on the changes, during which one politician asked the new department's head: "Does he agree that it is a shameful and retrograde development that further and higher education have been subsumed in this way, to be judged not worthy even of a single letter in the new departmental acronym?”

Meanwhile, a House of Commons committee tasked with overseeing science and technology at DIUS today released a quickly written report calling for a new, similar panel with oversight authority for the new department. In a statement, Phil Wills, the current committee chair, noted: “Despite all the reassurances we have heard from ministers about the importance of science and engineering in government planning and policy, yet again we face the reality that science could be lost in a black hole of this new, all-encompassing ‘super department’ of Business, Innovation and Skills. We urge the Government to create a science and technology select committee alongside the new Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to ensure the crucial work of science scrutiny across government is maintained."