Science subjects set to lose recruits

December 19, 2003

Variable top-up fees may drive students away from science courses already facing a recruitment crisis, the Royal Society warned this week, writes Anna Fazackerley.

The chair of the society's education committee, Alistair MacFarlane, issued a statement saying that if universities were able to charge higher fees for science courses, which are typically much costlier to run than other subjects, it could seriously heighten their unpopularity.

Professor MacFarlane said the society's concern was "acute". He told The THES : "I think there will be an enormous difference in the ways in which institutions react, but it could lead to an acceleration of the trend."

Figures published by the society indicate a downward trend in applications to study physical science as a first degree - Jbetween 1995-96 and 2001-02, undergraduate numbers fell by 31 per cent in chemistry, 13 per cent in physics and 8 per cent in engineering.

Education secretary Charles Clarke said that low-cost courses such as English would pay for high-cost subjects. He added that the government would continue to subsidise expensive courses.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns