Goodbye DTI and DfES, hello DIUS and DBERR

Added by Stephane Goldstein on 29 June 2007 13:08

As many readers of this blog will have gathered by now, the recent political upheavals in the UK have led to significant changes in ministerial responsibilities.  More than that, there have been major reorganisations in Government Departments, particularly those that look after research and innovation.  The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has lost its responsibility for the Research Councils and science policy and has become the new Department  for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the elegant-sounding DBERR).  The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has transformed itself into the new Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and no longer looks after higher education in England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are another matter…).

Out of the ashes emerges a sparkling new Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) which will, to quote the currently sparse website, "bring together the nation’s strengths in science, research, universities and colleges to build a dynamic, knowledge-based economy."

So, for the first time in about fifteen years (please correct me if I’m wrong), responsibility for higher education research is not split between two Departments.  Put in another way, both strands of the dual support system will be overseen by the same Secretary of State; the man in question is John Denham, who joins the Cabinet for the first time.  In this way, all research will be directly represented at the Cabinet table in a way that hasn’t been the case previously.  Good news maybe?

At time of writing, the more junior ministerial appointments haven’t yet been made, so it is not yet known who will be Minister for Science, assuming there is still such a function - we should find out very soon.  Nor do we yet know how the new arrangements will affect the relationships and dynamics between the Research Councils and HEFCE (the non-English funding bodies don’t report to DIUS), and the operation of the Office of Science and Innovation - not to mention the future of dual support funding itself.  Interesting times…

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