University science is now in real crisis – particularly the non-telegenic, non-ology bits of it such as chemistry. Since 1996, 28 universities have stopped offering chemistry degrees, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The society predicts that as few as six departments (those at Durham, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Bristol and Oxford) could remain open by 2014. Most recently, Exeter University closed down its chemistry department, blaming it on “market forces”, and Bristol took in some of the refugees.
The closures have been blamed on a fall in student applications, but money is a factor : chemistry degrees are expensive to provide – compared with English, for example – and some scientists say that the way the government concentrates research funding on a small number of top departments, such as Bristol, exacerbates the problem.