Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Resignation Raises Fears for Sector as Key Role at BIS Splits in Two

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Resignation Raises Fears for Sector as Key Role at BIS Splits in Two

Article excerpt

'Existing talent' within Civil Service to fill HE and science roles. Paul Jump and John Morgan report

The departure of Sir John O'Reilly as director-general for knowledge and innovation at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has heightened fears about the sector's prospects at the post-election spending review.

Sir John - the former vice-chancellor of Cranfield University - resigned less than two years after he succeeded Sir Adrian Smith as the most senior civil servant overseeing higher education and science and innovation policy.

A spokeswoman for BIS declined to comment on the reasons for his departure.

When Sir John leaves at the end of January his role will be split into two again, as it originally was before being united under Sir Adrian, who is now vice-chancellor of the University of London.

Philippa Lloyd will add higher education to her existing duties as director-general for people and strategy at BIS. Dr Lloyd has a physics doctorate and has formerly worked on research funding policy, as well as consumer and competition policy.

Science and innovation will be overseen by Gareth Davies, currently executive director and chief economist in the Cabinet Office. An accountant by background, he was a board member of BIS' forerunner, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and has also advised the prime minister on welfare reform and headed the prime minister's Strategy Unit.

A spokeswoman for BIS said that the decision to fill the roles with "existing talent" within the Civil Service, rather than advertising it externally, had been taken to avoid uncertainty ahead of next May's general election, and the spending review that is expected to follow soon after.

Mr Davies is believed to be the first director-general without a professional background in science to oversee the research councils since the role was created in the 1990s. …

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