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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 18:46 GMT
Imperial merges science faculties
Sir Peter Knight
Sir Peter Knight will head the new faculty
One of the UK's leading higher education institutions is merging two of its science faculties in response to "new opportunities".

The life sciences and physical sciences faculties at Imperial College London will form a natural sciences faculty.

The merger will be fully operational from August 2006.

The college's rector, Sir Richard Sykes, said the move came at a time when scientific disciplines were becoming more closely aligned.

Division of Biology
Division of Biomedical Sciences
Division of Cell and Molecular Biology
Division of Molecular Biosciences
Centre for Environmental Policy
Sir Richard said: "Science doesn't stand still and our academic structures need to change too, to reflect new opportunities and understanding, and help us move our interdisciplinary thinking further forward.

"It is increasingly apparent that discipline areas within these two faculties are becoming more closely aligned: chemistry with biochemistry; physics with biophysics; mathematics and systems biology; and bioinformatics across all."

Department of Chemistry
Department of Mathematics
Department of Physics
Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
Institute for Mathematical Sciences
The scientific case for bringing the two together was compelling and exciting, he added.

The move will also allow the university "to make savings from restructuring at the top-level" .

The new faculty will include 325 academic staff, 501 research staff and 372 support staff.

It will have approximately 2,774 undergraduate and 1,128 postgraduate students, 688 of whom will be PhD research students.

It will be headed by Professor Sir Peter Knight, head of the current physics department.

The government on Wednesday denied being complacent about the future of university science departments.

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell told the Commons science and technology select committee that the number of people studying science-related courses had risen.

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