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European Commission: more science students needed in Europe

Invests €8.3m to increase numbers of maths and science students

The European Commission (EC) is backing a programme to promote the study of science and maths among teenagers.

It says a lack of scientists will have a negative effect on Europe's recovery from recession, and allow Asia to dominate in science and engineering over the coming years.

Maire Geoghan-Quin, European Commissioner for Science, Research and Innovation, said: "We cannot risk our future growth and competitiveness by cutting back now on the investment in education, research and innovation that is necessary for long-term and sustained recovery.”

InGenious, a platform to bring together the EC, several major business leaders and 30 Ministries of Education involved in the European Schoolnet, will manage an €8.3m investment that aims to boost the region's economy.

It is hoped the plans will increase the number of people with scientific and technical qualifications in the region, seen by the EC as a key driver of scientific progress and innovation.

Asian countries are thought to train twice as many scientists and three times as many engineers compared to EU nations, with figures from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggesting Shanghai in China and Hong Kong lead the way in student performance in maths and science.

The European Round Table of Industrialists, an organisation focused on increasing young people's interest in studying science, described some reasons interest in science education was not as strong in Europe as in Asia.

Its Mathematics, Science & Technology Education report found young people believe the needs for science and technology in the developed world are filled, as well as a perceived negative stereotype about scientists, including unstable jobs, lots of work and low salaries.

The InGenious platform plans aim to address these issues and drive interest in science in a variety of ways, including demonstrating how science and technology skills can help people enter the job market. There will also be a focus on challenging stereotype and encouraging women and minorities to take up a science at university.

Showing how science and technology is uses in a teenager's everyday life will be part of the initiative too.

15th December 2011

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