.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Crisis? What crisis?

I have been banging on for some time about the problems facing science subjects in Welsh educational establishments. The closure of the chemistry department in Swansea University is just one aspect of this. It was a particularly good example of what happens when market economics are applied to education. Disturbingly, it is the application of the laws of demand and supply to education that is accelerating the crisis in the sciences that faces the UK.

The latest development in this is the emergence of a disparity between England and Wales in the amount given in bursaries for people doing postgraduate teaching courses in maths and the sciences. It is my view that this could lead to a brain drain of graduates across the border. From next September those pursuing a postgraduate teaching course in the sciences will get a bursary of £9000 in England, but only £7,000 in Wales.

Yesterday the President of the Royal Society warned that the decline in the numbers of students taking A-levels in physics, chemistry and maths is not sustainable. Lord May of Oxford told us that unless this decline is arrested then the UK risks losing not only the next generation of highly skilled scientist, technologists and engineers, but also the teachers to train the generation that comes after them.

Earlier this year a report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee predicted that core science subjects such as chemistry and physics will only survive within Higher Education if universities agree to collaborate through a series of regional networks to maintain teaching and research.

No-one is happy with a bidding war developing in the training of teachers, however we cannot avoid the fact that when we face a shortage in these subjects, then we need to be able to compete to attract sufficient graduates of the right calibre to fulfill our needs here in Wales. The Minister needs to ensure that Postgraduate students in Wales do not lose out. We cannot afford to fall behind.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?