Top-up fees 'will put even more students off science'

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The Independent Online

The introduction of top-up fees will put even more students off science and plunge the UK into an economically damaging crisis, the influential Royal Society warned yesterday.

Sir Alistair MacFarlane, the chair of the Royal Society's education committee, said the Government must act now to tackle the "plummeting popularity" of science in schools and universities. He said the problem was caused by a shortage of well-qualified science teachers who could act as role models and instill in children a love of the subject.

The number of pupils taking A-levels in chemistry has dropped by 18.7 per cent, in physics by 29.6 per cent, and in mathematics by 25.4 per cent over the past 10 years, according to the Royal Society.

In UK universities the number of students taking chemistry dropped by 31 per cent between 1995 and 2001. In physics, numbers fell by 13 per cent and in engineering and technology they declined by eight per cent. This was despite an overall 11 per cent rise in student numbers during that period.