[ASC-media] Physics in Australia is booming

Sarah Brooker sarah at scienceinpublic.com
Tue Aug 29 23:55:50 CEST 2006

More students needed to meet demand

Students looking for wide career opportunities, good pay and a chance to be
at the cutting edge of discovery should enrol in a university physics

That's the message from David Jamieson, President of the Australian
Institute of Physics (AIP), who is keen to attract tomorrow's university
students into physics.  

"Physics in Australia is booming," says Jamieson. "We have an unprecedented
number of very high profile projects in Australia with physics at their

He cites Australia's new $200 million plus synchrotron - being built near
Monash University in Melbourne and the new OPAL reactor being built in
Sydney. Both projects will require large numbers of physicists.

According to Professor Jamieson, physics graduates are already in high
demand which is pushing up their market value. Many go onto research careers
but, says Professor Jamieson, others are attracted to industry and careers
in finance where their problem solving and mathematical modelling skills, as
well as the rigour of their degrees, makes them hot property. 

Those who elect to specialise in secondary physics teaching can expect to be
"quickly snapped up and very quickly occupy leadership positions" in schools
across the nation.

Physics graduates can also expect good financial remuneration, says Jamieson
who is Director of the University of Melbourne node of the Centre of
Excellence for Quantum Computer Technology. 

According to a recent survey by the Federation of Australian Scientific and
Technological Societies, physics and maths graduates can expect higher
average salaries than those graduating in other scientific disciplines.

"The booms in biotechnology and information technology have also contributed
to , physics and maths graduates getting higher salaries," says  Jamieson,
"which is because physics graduates also find employment in those areas".

The AIP is keen to alert students to the huge opportunities and demand for
physics graduates at a time when they are making their subject choices. 

He also refers to a detailed study by Dan O'Keeffe, secretary of the
education committee of the Victorian branch of the AIP and a former school
physics teacher, based on national school entry figures since the 1960s.
This study found that, since the 1970s, there has been an overall increase
in the participation rates of students studying Physics at the Y12 level in
Victoria and New South Wales. 

But there is still room for more graduates to meet the demand in the

A July 2006 audit of science, engineering and technology (SET) skills by
DEST, the federal Department of Education, Science and Training, found that
despite strong demand, there is a "decreasing pool of applicants for SET
positions in industry and the scientific research sector". 

Jamieson says that any decrease in the pool of graduates increases the
potential market value of young physicists. 

For more information or to interview contact: 

David Jamieson on (03) 8344 5376 or 0408 344 024 or 
Dan O'Keeffe on (03) 9561 7602 or 0409 501 202	


Sarah Brooker

Project Manager
Science in Public
24 James Street Williamstown Victoria 3016 AUSTRALIA

t. +61 3 9397 3980
m. +61 413 332 489
e. sarah at scienceinpublic.com

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