£18m boost to attract science students

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A radical £18m package to tackle the crisis in university science and technology was unveiled yesterday by Bill Rammell, the Higher Education minister.

It will fund projects to reverse the dwindling numbers of students choosing to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics at university, and to attract more women and ethnic minorities.

Announcing the investment yesterday, Mr Rammell said the way science had been traditionally taught had put young people off the subject.

He said that government reform of the secondary school science curriculum, which will focus more on topical issues such as the MMR vaccine and genetic engineering, would result in more young people becoming interested in the subject. "We are changing the way science is taught to relate it to today's world and move away from some of the rote learning," he said.

Schemes to be funded under the initiative by Hefce, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, include new physics-based degree courseswhich will not require students to have studied either physics or maths at A-level. The "integrated science" degrees will be offered at four universities from next autumn.