The Department of Physics at Reading will close in 2010 when the last undergraduates leave the course. The department currently loses in the region of £500,000 a year and would need to recruit three new staff and buy new facilities to continue operating. The welfare of current undergraduates will be a top priority for Reading until the department finally closes.
The stream of closures in expensive science subjects sparked a £75m bail-out from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) two weeks ago, in an attempt to tide loss-making departments over until an anticipated new wave of science students comes through the education system. £25m per year will be available from 2007-8, as Hefce realised it was more cost effective to keep struggling departments open during the barren spell, rather than go through the expense of re-opening them later. Reading was expecting around £180,000 a year from this pot, far short of the amount it would require to keep running.
Reading's vice-chancellor made comments on letters he had received from MPs expressing concern at the closure: a number of the letters came from regions which had sent few, if any, physics undergraduates to Reading over the past decade.
Reading was rated 34th in the country by the 2006 Sunday Times University League Table.