President's column

Thank you for your positive response to our reply to the consultation document on statutory regulation. We have now begun discussing ways ahead with the Department of Health, and any options will be appraised on four main criteria: (a) Does it protect the public better than the status quo? (b) Does it meet the criterion of independence? (c) Does it improve coverage of regulation? and (d) Does it maintain or enhance current professional standards?
Thank you for your positive response to our reply to the consultation document on statutory regulation. We have now begun discussing ways ahead with the Department of Health, and any options will be appraised on four main criteria: (a) Does it protect the public better than the status quo? (b) Does it meet the criterion of independence? (c) Does it improve coverage of regulation? and (d) Does it maintain or enhance current professional standards?

Meanwhile, the Society is moving ahead in other areas. At a recent meeting the Trustees agreed to a proposal from the Research Board, fully supported by the Membership and Professional Training Board, that we apply to become a Licensed Member Body of the Science Council so that we can confer the title ‘Chartered Scientist’ and, in the future, ‘Chartered Science Teacher’. The Science Council has a membership of over 25 professional institutions and learned societies (including us since 2004) and has a member network of more than 300,000 scientists covering the full breadth of science and mathematics. Granted a Royal Charter in 2003, it was empowered to award the designation Chartered Scientist. This recognition can be conferred by the Science Council’s member organisations once they have been granted a licence by the Council to do so, hence our application. We fully meet the criteria to become a licensed member – for example we have at least one membership standard at graduate level, have a code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, monitor the professional development of our members, and have procedures in place to meet standards.

This is an important membership service for those in research and teaching, as well as further integrating the Society into the scientific community. The award of CSci indicates that the person follows best practice in science, is up to date in their field, and has credibility as an expert witness. It provides government departments with an assurance of level of expertise and provides employers with confirmation of the quality of a candidate’s qualifications. We will keep you informed about our application for the licence, and will confirm the procedures whereby our members can apply for the conferment of CSci.

Meanwhile we continue to have to defend psychology as a science and we have set up
a Science Strategy Forum group to do just this. The Times Good University Guide 2006 was recently published, and on behalf of the Society I wrote to the editor of The Times setting out the statistics showing why psychology is not a ‘softer’ option, and correcting a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations. For example 59 per cent of psychology graduates obtain employment in the UK, not 27 per cent, and a further 23 per cent go into further study. We are pleased that psychology remains the second most popular degree subject behind law, and that the number of entrants onto both GCSE and A-level courses continues to increase. In our view psychology is a discipline in which critical thinking skills are developed within a context of rigorous empirical methodology.

A development in another area needs your help – a consultation in progress that I would urge members to take part in. The Ethics Committee has produced a new draft Code of Ethics and Conduct that they intend will help members in resolving ethical dilemmas, as well as acting as a framework for what constitutes acceptable professional conduct. The proposed Code is available on the BPS website (tinyurl.com/cbejk) and in hard copy from the regulatory affairs department; members can provide comments through the appropriate subsystem or direct to the committee until 1 November. The Ethics Committee will use the website to provide information on the responses received and aims to finalise the new Code for introduction at the AGM of the Society next year. Please contribute to this process so that the breadth and diversity of the profession is reflected in the final Code when it is introduced.

Another development concerns the BPS Welfare Fund, which was set up in 1994 with the aim of providing financial assistance to those members who, for whatever reason (perhaps through marital breakdown or ill health), have found themselves in financial difficulties. The fund started small and through the generosity of Society members increased over the years such that a large number of people have been helped. The Trustees of the Society have always been aware, however, that the Society itself is unable to finance the work of the Welfare Fund due to current charity legislation, and so the amount raised varies from year to year.

The fund is run by its own board of trustees. At a recent meeting it was decided that the fund was in need of more such trustees with ideas and time to move it forward, so that the future funding of this important work can be secured. Do you feel you could offer the time and expertise required? All the administrative work is done from Leicester so it is your ideas, knowledge and experience that the fund is looking for. If you would like to be part of this initiative, then contact Russell Hobbs ([email protected]) – see the advert on the facing page. This is important work and so worthwhile.

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