EPSRC PPE to be a Victim of Austerity

In a circular email from the EPSRC forwarded to Engineering and Physical Sciences staff at my Institution via our Research Office, it seems like the public engagement of science is going to be an early victim of the Government’s new austerity package.

> As part of an ongoing review of how we allocate our resources, EPSRC will no longer be funding public engagement activities via the **Partnerships for Public Engagement (PPE)** Scheme. As a consequence, the PPE call planned for this autumn will not go ahead.

Given that this sort of funding was designed to encourage researchers to follow in the footsteps of the superstars of science popularization such as [Marcus Du Sautoy](http://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/dusautoy/), [Jim Al-Khalili](http://www2.surrey.ac.uk/physics/people/jim_al-khalili/) and [Brian Cox](http://www.apolloschildren.com:16080/brian/), one has to wonder what this decision will do to the future popularization of science and engineering. And, in the long term, to the science-base in the UK.
Some element will remain:
> … from April 2011, we will no longer offer dedicated support for public engagement; rather it will be embedded through our research and training investments.

and of course, *consultation* will be done ***after the fact**:*> Over the next few months we will be consulting with advisory groups on how to maximise the impact of our embedded public engagement portfolio. We also intend to hold workshops to help the research community adjust to our new way of working.

The small savings that this change will bring may have very large unexpected consequences.