Despite overall decline, physics applications are on the rise

3 February 2012

Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) have confirmed that there has been an increase in the number of students applying to begin a physics course at a UK university this year.

According to data available from applications submitted by January 15 - the official deadline for applications - there have been almost 2,000 more applications to physics courses this year in comparison with last, a rise from 23,015 in 2011 to 24,934 in 2012.

The 8.3% increase in physics applicants is in stark contrast to the overall 8.7% decline in university applicants across the UK.

The overall decline is thought to be due to a range of factors – including a smaller cohort of school leavers and uncertainty around the effects of the new tuition fees regime – but the Institute of Physics (IOP) is delighted to see physics bucking the trend.

Professor Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at IOP, said, “The lifetime value of a degree in physics is enormous.  The subject knowledge gained on the degree is, of course, fascinating but also leaves the graduate with computing skills, a high level of sophistication in mathematics, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to grasp and apply complex ideas. 

“Physics degrees are a springboard into a wide-range of careers, from physics research and teaching to finance, law or even, perhaps, becoming the next Brian Cox. 

“While we will undertake research to understand better the reasons for the increase, and help ensure that the positive momentum is sustained, I’m sure that, in the current economic circumstances, job prospects will have played a significant role in informing students’ decisions, and we would like to assure physics applicants that they have made a very wise choice.”

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