The United Kingdom’s national centre for ocean research is slashing the number of scientific staff as it struggles to cope with government austerity measures, Nature has learned.
Staff were told yesterday that 35 jobs in the centre’s Directorate of Science and Technology will go, yielding £1.5 million (US$2.4 million) in salary savings. As a result of changes to the budget of the research council responsible for funding research in the natural sciences, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), which has sites in Southampton and Liverpool, needs to make a total savings of £3.5 million a year on a £45-million budget.
“We have identified a group of staff ‘at risk’ of redundancy, using a range of criteria agreed with the relevant trade unions, and those staff were informed yesterday. We are now calling for volunteers for early release before deciding if we need to also have a compulsory redundancy phase,” the centre said in a statement to Nature.
The NOC is one of the world’s leading oceanography research centres and employs 540 staff. Many UK institutions are feeling the pinch as the country’s research councils struggle with flat budgets or cutbacks, but the loss of so many staff at such a renowned research centre is already sending ripples through the community and is being discussed among scientists attending this week’s high-profile Planet Under Pressure meeting in London.
Additional reporting by Geoff Brumfiel.
This post was updated on 30/3 to reflect that the NOC has a site in Liverpool as well as in Southampton.