School of Biological Sciences (Victoria University of Manchester, 1986–2004)
In addition to the trend to a less compartmentalised approach to biology the government in the 1980s was cutting spending on universities but trying to preserve engineering and medicine. But ultimately the motivation for reform was an assessment by the UGC that was critical of all biological sciences in Manchester. While Physiology and Anatomy fared best they were only rated as 'Average'. Biochemistry, Botany, and Zoology were all 'Below Average', the lowest rank attributable. Biological science in Manchester not only ranked well below Cambridge, Oxford and the London Colleges but was also worse than its civic university competitors such as Liverpool and Leeds and as well as many newer universities such as Reading, Southampton, Swansea and Leicester.
A new School of Biological Sciences was created in 1986 with four new departments: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell and Structural Biology, Physiological Sciences, and Environmental Biology. In 1993 the departments were combined to create a single department school. Concentration on the application of molecular biology techniques to address biological research issues led to a marked improvement in the levels achieved in research and, by extension, teaching as measured by external assessment. This was also reflected in a marked increase in funding from research councils and charities and in the higher profile life sciences gained within the university.
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