Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

STEM Surge Leads to Physics Degree Relaunch

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

STEM Surge Leads to Physics Degree Relaunch

Article excerpt

A decade ago, physics was in the doldrums: student numbers had stagnated over the previous 10 years and in December 2004, Newcastle University closed its pure physics course to new undergraduates simply because not enough students were applying.

But from 2015 the university will reopen the course to new entrants amid a wider resurgence of interest in physics nationally.

Nick Wright, Newcastle's pro vice-chancellor for research, said that the hugely popular television programmes presented by University of Manchester physicist Brian Cox had boosted interest in the subject among young people.

"We all owe Brian Cox a beer," he said.

Publicity surrounding experiments at the Switzerland-based Cern research facility had also had an impact, he added.

In 2004-05, there were 14,610 students studying physics in the UK, according to Higher Education Statistics Agency data.

Numbers stagnated until 2007-08 (shortly before the first beams were successfully fired around Cern's Large Hadron Collider), since when they have grown by 22 per cent to 18,120 in 2011-12. …

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