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Physics deficit needs Government action

As students across Britain received their A-Level results, the Institute of Physics in Ireland warmly welcomes the highly significant rise in the numbers taking physics.

In Northern Ireland there has been a 23% increase over the past six years, while in Britain as a whole, physics is now the ninth most popular subject.

In addition, Northern Ireland leads with the best gender balance — girls there making up 30% of the 2012 physics class.

In sharp contrast, south of the border, the numbers taking physics at Leaving Certificate level have fallen again this year: girls form only 25% of the physics cohort and almost a quarter of schools are not even offering the subject at Leaving Cert.

The positive story from our nearest neighbours is not accidental but is a result of sustained government investment in schools, and in carefully targeted programmes such as the government funded, IOP run, Stimulating Physics Network in England.

Successive ministers in Ireland have recognised that skills in the physical sciences are essential for the recovery of Ireland’s economy.

We must do more.

Dr Kevin McGuigan

Chair

Institute of Physics in Ireland


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