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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 18:48 GMT
Science degree 'boosts earnings'
There are fears for the future of university science
Chemistry and physics graduates earn 98,000 more on average during their careers than students who get a degree in history, a study suggests.

They can expect to make 187,000 more than those who leave education after A-levels, it adds.

The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics report is based on the government's labour force survey.

It comes amid fears over the future of university science, with several departments having closed recently.


According to the research, carried out by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, chemistry and physics graduates pay approximately 135,000 more in tax over their working lives than A-level leavers.

They pay out 40,000 more than the average graduate.

The report comes ahead of a Commons science and technology select committee inquiry into the provision of "strategically important" subjects at English universities.

President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dr Simon Campbell, said today: "We have known for a long time that careers in physics and chemistry are personally rewarding since these skilled scientists make so many contributions to our everyday lives.

"Now we have independent evidence that the financial rewards of studying physics and chemistry are significantly more attractive to the individual and the UK than for most other disciplines."

Exeter University recently decided to close its chemistry department, while Newcastle did the same to its pure physics department.

Both were seen as financially unviable under the structure of higher education funding.

They are not top-rated, meaning they do not get as much government money as some departments.

Professor Peter Main, Director of Education at the Institute of Physics said: "It costs on average 21,000 to teach an undergraduate over the course of a degree programme.

"Although physics and chemistry are expensive to teach, graduates in these two subjects contribute 40,000 more than the average graduate in tax to the Exchequer because they earn so much more over their lifetime.

"If physics and chemistry departments in the UK continue to close and the number of undergraduate places in these subjects declines, then the nation will lose out.

"In the long-run, it would be far cheaper to safeguard these departments from closure."

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