CSIRO takes axe to education and children's outreach work to meet cuts
More than 50 education jobs to go in move that science lobby group says ‘turns off the tap on aspiring young scientists’
The national science agency is scrambling to find savings following a $114m funding cut in the federal budget.
The CSIRO has cut its education and outreach budget by nearly a third, shedding more than 50 science education jobs and disbanding Double Helix, its children’s science club.
The 30% cut in funding for science education is the result of “a strategic decision to refocus programs on CSIRO’s research and move away from more general science activities”, a spokesman for the research agency said.
He said 14 permanent positions were being made “potentially redundant”, but the CSIRO Staff Association said the figure was likely to be higher.
The union said all 42 casually employed outreach staff – who deliver hands-on science education to regional and remote schools – would be sacked.
The research agency’s school-holiday programs will also cease and its student science club, Double Helix, will close after more than 25 years.
The CSIRO said the changes to education programs were “part of an overall refresh of CSIRO’s education and outreach branding” and that it would continue to deliver science events and activities aimed at young people in each of its nine education centres around the country.
The national science agency is scrambling to find savings following a $114m funding cut in the federal budget, which the union said would see the loss of up to 500 jobs.
About 28 climate, marine and atmospheric researchers are facing the axe . The organisation’s astronomy division is also expected to scrap about 30 jobs, and has suspended several fellowships and post-doctoral positions. Last week the chief of the CSIRO’s space science division warned that the radio telescope at Parkes, which helped beam the first moon landing in 1969, could also shut to meet the required savings.
The agency said national educational programs such as the Crest Awards, the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards and CarbonKids would continue to operate. Its student magazines, the Helix and Scientriffic, would also continue.
Catriona Jackson, the chief executive of scientists lobby Science and Technology Australia, said any scaling back of scientific education would be a “tragedy”.
“At a time when inspiring the next generation of scientists is more important than ever, it is a tragedy to see CSIRO’s trailblazing science education programs on the chopping block,” she said.
“Turning off the tap on aspiring young scientists, especially in regional areas with fewer big science facilities, is a shameful waste of national talent.”