The University of Warwick is investigating the barriers that prevent pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university to study the physical sciences, writes Anna Fazackerley.
Many initiatives to counter the shortage of chemistry and physics graduates have focused on persuading potential students to take the physical sciences rather than other subjects. The new project will focus on ways to tap into the pool of bright pupils who choose not to go to university at all.
Paul Taylor, senior lecturer in chemistry at Warwick, is leading the project, which is funded by the Learning and Teaching Support Network. He said: "We are trying to disentangle the issues surrounding why people don't do chemistry or physics anyway - such as the image of the subjects - from the more practical issues that affect people from disadvantaged backgrounds."
The researchers are surveying pupils from schools in the Birmingham area that provide a high proportion of free school meals.