Sunday, August 19, 2012

UK shows the way for physics - Irish Times

The Irish Times - Monday, August 20, 2012

Sir, â€" As students across the UK receive 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 per cent increase over the past six years, while in the UK as a whole, physics is now the ninth most popular subject. In addition, Northern Ireland leads the UK field with the best gender balance â€" girls there making up 30 per cent 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 per cent 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, Stimulating Physics Network, run in England by the Institute of Physics. 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. â€" Yours, etc,

Dr KEVIN MCGUIGAN, FInstP,

Chair, Institute of Physics in Ireland,

Dublin 2.

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