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St Andrews sparks chemistry applications rise

Politicians and scientists heard how two Scottish universities collaborating on chemistry research are maintaining Scotland’s competitive edge on the world stage when they met today (Thursday 17 March 2005).

Contrasting with the high-profile collapse of other UK university chemistry departments, St Andrews and Edinburgh claim that £10 million investment in a joint chemistry research school will ignite fresh interest in the subject and generate new and exciting collaborations. Indeed, St Andrews has recently seen a 20% rise in undergraduate applications to study chemistry.

The creation of EaStChem (forming ScotCHEM along with other Scottish universities, also receiving substantial investment in chemistry) and Scotland’s new physics collaboration, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), was celebrated at a Scottish Parliament event today.

Hosted by Alex Neil MSP, the event was attended by other MSPs, scientists and representatives from SHEFC. It highlighted the schemes’ impact on the science world, the scientists’ research vision, their experiences of creating SUPA and ScotCHEM, how the bodies will operate, whether the initiative is transferable to other research areas and what it could mean for Scotland’s economy.

The £9.7 million EaStChem funding, which follows the closure of numerous departments throughout the UK, comes from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (£4 million), the universities themselves (£4 million) and the Office of Science and Technology (£2 million).

Professor Neville Richardson, Head of the School of Chemistry at St Andrews and the first Director of the joint Edinburgh/St Andrews EaStChem research school said, “At a time when we have seen the disappointing closure of chemistry departments in other leading UK universities, it’s encouraging and exciting to see this investment. We hope that our new relationship with Edinburgh will spark exciting new research programmes and build on chemistry’s reputation in Scotland – from the world-leading research which leaves our buildings en route to industry to the school-leavers who we hope to enthuse to study the subject at university level. EaStChem should also enable us to maintain our recent upsurge in undergraduate applications”.

EaStChem will combine the universities’ research ‘communities’ and enhance Scotland’s leading position in one of science’s core subjects. The teams will focus on a wide-ranging research portfolio including chemistry for health, green chemistry, nanochemistry and the synthesis of new molecules.

A world-class graduate research school will be created, with new appointments of the highest calibre – including four Professorships, associated lectureships, technical staff, postdoctoral fellowships and PhD studentships.

Indeed, the collaboration is already proving a real attraction to top talent applying for positions at the two universities. Edinburgh has recently appointed Professor Paul Madden, FRS who will be the only Fellow of the Royal Society working in a Scottish university chemistry department following his move from Oxford. St Andrews has appointed Professor Paul Kamer from the University of Amsterdam to a Chair, initially funded on an EU Marie-Curie fellowship.

The independent undergraduate schools will remain. The universities will share postgraduate recruitment system and major items of equipment, and will make joint bids for funding.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS

For more information on the 17 March event, please contact Willie Rennie – telephone 0131 220 6779, mobile 07960 410711 or email w.rennie@mcewan-purvis.co.uk. Press are invited to attend.

For more information on the University of St Andrews, please contact Claire Grainger, details below.

For more information on the University of Edinburgh, please contact Ronnie Kerr – telephone 0131 650 9547 or email Ronald.Kerr@ed.ac.uk

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/eastchem View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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