‘Brian Cox effect’ leads to surge in demand for physics

One of Britain’s top universities has been forced to dramatically raise entrance requirements for its physics course after being flooded with applicants on the back of the popularity of Brian Cox. This is from the Telegraph…

Manchester University is the first in the country to require students to gain two elite A* grades – alongside an A – at A-level to get onto its physics degrees.

It represents the highest entry threshold for any physics course in Britain, including those run by Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Imperial College London. It is among only a handful of degrees in any subject nationally to demand two A*s.

Manchester has always been a popular choice for physics but the university admitted that a recent rise in applications had been partially driven by the attraction of Prof Cox, one of the department’s academics and presenter of television series such as Stargazing Live and Wonders of the Universe.

He currently teaches quantum mechanics and relativity to first year students.

It also reflects the increasing popularity of the subject nationally on the back of publicity surrounding the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

Across Britain, the number of students taking degrees in physics has soared by 50 per cent in just eight years to reach more than 40,000 in 2011.

The popularity of physics has bucked a national trend which has seen a drop in demand for higher education following the imposition of annual tuition fees of up to £9,000 for the first time last autumn.

The disclosure comes just days before the main January 15 deadline to apply to most 2013 degree courses through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Prof Fred Loebinger, Manchester’s admissions tutor for physics, said its courses had been increasingly in demand following the award of two Nobel Prizes to its academics in 2010 combined with the profile of the university’s Jodrell Bank Observatory.

“Over the last few years, our applications have been going up and up and we’ve been able to capitalise on that by increasing our entrance requirements,” he said.

“This year, we have this A*A*A criteria and it’s still led to an increase in applications again. What we’re doing is attracting more students at the very top end of the scale.”

He added: “The national figures are also rising – and rising faster than other comparable science subjects – so clearly all the publicity that Brian [Cox], Jodrell Bank, Cern and the LHC are having is good for physics across the country.

“Obviously, Manchester can’t help but benefit from that because Brian is one of our staff.”

More at:  ‘Brian Cox effect’ leads to surge in demand for physics

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