Martin in Parliament



The future of Reading University Physics Department is now on the agenda at Westminster following an intervention by Reading West MP Martin Salter who raised the issue at Education Questions in the Commons today.

The Senior Management Board at the University caused uproar last month when they announced plans to close the Department which has recently become a National Centre of Excellence for the teaching of physics.

Speaking in the Commons Mr Salter said: “It is blindingly obvious that science based degrees require science based universities – so will the Minister agree to meet myself and a delegation of staff and students from the University of Reading whose Physics Department is threatened with closure by the University Council. This is despite the receipt of over £2.5m of taxpayers money just last year to establish a Centre of Excellence in the teaching of Physics”

In reply, Phil Hope, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education and Skills, confirmed that Ministers would be prepared to meet a delegation led my Mr Salter to hear that concerns over the future of Reading University Physics Department. However, he made it clear that it was not the job of the government to “micro-manage the running of individual universities”

This week Mr Salter has also submitted a letter of protest on behalf of the staff and students from Dr Averil MacDonald, Lecturer in Physics at Reading, to Bill Rammell MP, Minister for Higher Education at the Department for Education and Skills who will be meeting Mr Salter’s delegation. Mr Salter has also written himself to the University Vice Chancellor Gordon Marshall.

Mr Salter added: “We have until 20th November when the University Council next meets to try and overturn this decision and retain physics teaching at Reading. I shall be using every opportunity to raise this issue and highlight the madness of reducing science based teaching at a time when Britain needs to compete in a knowledge based global economy. I also intend to pursue what seems to me to be an extraordinary waste of £2.5million of tax payers money in setting up a Centre of Excellence for the teaching of Physics”