PESGB June 2011
- Book Review
- Shale Gas India
- London Evening Lecture Review
Plus much more inside
President’s Page- Steve Garrett
You may have heard that the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has chosen, in the light of pressures on its overall budget, to cease funding of studentships on taught masters (MSc)
courses. This has caused our PESGB membership to voice concern, as many of you have MSc degrees, often gained with NERC sponsorship.
PESGB has consulted the directors of 12 courses at 9 universities offering vocational training in geology and geophysics related to the energy industry. They report that, of around 300 places, the
majority are taken by independently funded students from beyond the UK. NERC has recently funded around 30 studentships per year i.e. around 10% of the total. Course directors anticipate that the effects of withdrawal of NERC funding include:
- the availabilty of significantly fewer UK-based geoscientists to meet national energy, environmental and economic needs
- increased risk to academic excellence, as securing a course place will be more likely to reflect the ability to secure funding
- reducing participation from less well-off students in MSc courses
PESGB used this input to submit, together with the Petroleum Group of the Geological Society of London (GSL) and with the British Geophysical Association (BGA), a response to the Commons
Science and Technology Select Committee regarding the impact of the Science and Research Budget Allocation. This will be available online for your consideration, for example at the PESGB website. We have put forward what we believe to be a strong case that the withdrawal of NERC funding may have a disproportionate impact, contributing to a risk of market failure in the supply of suitably-qualified earth scientists to meet the energy and economic needs of the UK, including potential future carbon sequestration projects.
Regardless of the response from the committee, a positive outcome already is the exemplary collaboration between the PESGB, GSL and BGA in drafting the response. I hope this exercise will
also build trust and partnership between our organisations, and with the university departments that we consulted. On a practical level, PESGB Council are reviewing our guidelines for awards of PESGB bursaries to masters students in anticipation of greater demand from applicants this year. We are also starting to consider new ways to gather funds from industry for disbursement to students. We do not aim to replace the funding provided by NERC, but do see these activities as well aligned with our society objective to promote, for the public benefit, education in the scientific and technical aspects of petroleum exploration.