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International academic pressure grows over Reading physics closure

15 November 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Staff and students at Reading University will be seeking to overturn the proposed closure of Reading University's physics department at a lobby on Monday 20 November.

The department's fate will be decided at a meeting of the university council on Monday afternoon.

The campaign has received a powerful boost with the publication of a petition opposing the closure signed by more than 1,600 academics and supporters from around the world, including more than sixty internationally renowned professors.

The petition includes scholars from twenty one countries including France, Canada, Poland, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Germany, the USA, Australia, India, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Austria and Holland as well as academics from across the UK.

UCU says closure of the department is a knee-jerk reaction to a short term financial crisis which flies in the face of expert opinion and would raise serious questions about the government's much-lauded science strategy.

UCU joint general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The international academic community is looking on with horror at the prospect of another closure of a science department in the UK. With just 1% of the world's population, but responsibility for 11% of the most cited scientific papers UK scientists have always punched above their weight but they desperately need more support if we are to sustain that position.'

'Over the past few weeks and months we have heard nothing but encouragement for science and innovation in the UK from all sides. However, warm words mean very little if those in power look the other way when scientists are being made redundant and labs are being closed. Both the prime minister and the chancellor recognise the need to support science but where is the strategy from government departments to ensure that we can sustain the UK's position? Our competitors such as China and India are building new science departments, not closing them.'

The lobby on Monday 20 November will assemble at Whiteknights House at 11.50am and make its way to Park House for 12pm to lobby the council members and present the petition before they go to the meeting.

Whiteknights House is building 27 on the map and Park House is the south-side of building 8 (.pdf)

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