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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
18m to inspire science students
science lesson
Some 80,000 students are set to benefit from the funding
Pilot projects designed to inspire young people to study chemistry, maths, physics and engineering have received a multimillion-pound funding package.

The 18m investment aims to reverse falling numbers of students in these subjects, while attracting more women, and students from all backgrounds.

More than 80,000 students, aged from nine to 21, from schools and colleges across England are set to benefit.

A new science degree, careers advice and mentoring will be on offer.

The government has long been trying to come up with ways to draw more students into science.

Technology clubs

The Institute of Physics hopes to do that through a new Integrated Sciences degree, which combines core physics with courses in applying science to the modern world.

It is aimed at people who want to take an interdisciplinary science degree or those who did not take the right A-levels to study physics.

East Anglia, London South Bank, Leicester and Surrey universities will have space for 20 students each year over the next five years.

Royal Academy of Engineering - 2.9m
Institute of Physics - 1.79m
Consortium of maths societies - 3.3m
Royal Society of Chemistry - 3.6m

Another of the pilot schemes is the London Engineering Project, run by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Nearly 3m of investment over two-and-a-half years will pay for activities such as Saturday technology clubs in schools and a mentoring programme.

It wants to encourage students to go onto higher education and get more Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani students from south London to study engineering.

Meanwhile, a project called Chemistry for our Future will look at what first year undergraduates study and ways to make it more attractive and inspiring with its 3.6m investment.

We have a common goal, to inspire young people, to show them the wonder and excitement that science, technology, engineering and maths can bring
Bill Rammell

It will also try to extend part-time provision and put an emphasis on the jobs open to chemistry students.

A consortium of maths societies, awarded 3.3m, wants careers advice in secondary schools to reflect the full range of jobs open to mathematicians.

Students tended to think maths leads to teaching or accountancy, when it could mean a career in Formula 1 racing, code-breaking or journalism, a spokeswoman for the consortium said.

If these schemes prove successful, they could be rolled out nationally.

Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, said such projects were a big step forward in reaching their goal.

"We have a common goal, to inspire young people, to show them the wonder and excitement that science, technology, engineering and maths can bring and to encourage them to study and pursue these subjects to higher levels and in their careers," he said.

The schemes also have the backing of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which welcomed reinvigorating the science base for "the benefit of business and the UK as a whole".

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) will contribute almost 12m of the total package, with the remainder paid for by other partners.

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