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Working together to promote excellence in Physics The South East Physics Network A model for STEM sustainability? Professor Sir William Wakeham – Chair.

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Presentation on theme: "Working together to promote excellence in Physics The South East Physics Network A model for STEM sustainability? Professor Sir William Wakeham – Chair."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working together to promote excellence in Physics The South East Physics Network A model for STEM sustainability? Professor Sir William Wakeham – Chair Dr James West – Executive Director

2 Working together to promote excellence in Physics

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5 SEPnet 1: A Boost for Physics Consortium of six University Physics departments in the South East £12 million grant over 5 years from HEFCE To create a subject collaboration in teaching, research and outreach. Working together to promote and sustain Physics in the South East

6 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Why? Decline in Physics UG numbers Nigel Brown Associates report on finances of Physics departments – separate report for the SEPnet partners Wakeham Report into Physics Closure of Physics departments – Especially Reading Concern others in the SE were at risk Concern about the research mix of some institutions Wanted to strengthen departments and grow UG numbers – Cf SUPA (Research focus) and MPA (PGT) Impetus to form SEPnet

7 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Vision of SEPnet The six partner universities – Kent, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, Southampton, Surrey and Sussex – propose to create a consortium to advance and protect Physics as a strategically important subject for the UK economy and its science base, collaboratively securing its disciplinary and financial sustainability in the South East Region.

8 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SEPnet Initiatives Outreach programmes to schools Team approach across the region - GCSE Programme of curriculum collaboration Euro Masters degree to attract EU and international students Employer Engagement Staff/PhD Student appointments; build research

9 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Outreach programme Region wide programme highlight strengths of individual partners e.g. Astro at Sussex embedding strong regional presence of Physics practice sharing and activity review as a consortium flagship GCSE Project across all sites Multiple level engagement priority for GCSE and A-Level school students BUT not exclusively Parents Teachers Primary school + Public Communities Facilitated by physics specialist Outreach Officers at each site Driven and (sometimes) delivered by academics, researchers and students A tool to engage other universities, e.g. Oxford

10 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Employer Engagement Aims Increase awareness of the links between Universities and businesses Survey and assess current trends and requirements of employers, e specially SMEs Summer internship programme, placing undergraduates with regional employers Establish network of employers, via internship programme and employer advisory panel

11 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SEPnet Research Collaborations Background: Extremely broad research portfolio across the network Collaborate on promoting research excellence: Identify 4 themes for investment Criteria: International quality; strategic relevance; potential impact Regional dimension Partnership with Harwell Science and Innovation Campus Astrophysics Atomic and Condensed Matter Physics Particle Physics Radiation Detectors and Instrumentation

12 Working together to promote excellence in Physics InstitutionResearch Power Size SUPA 1192 Cambridge 0.82141 SEPnet 0.76158 Midlands 0.73139 Oxford 0.72140 ICST 0.69127 UCL 0.54101 After Research Fortnight RAE 2008 Research power = FTE x quality index Normalise by max power. SEPnet in the UK Research Landscape

13 Working together to promote excellence in Physics The opportunities: Establish new research synergies Effective use of research infrastructure Coordinated response to national research priorities identified by RCUK Coordinated engagement with industry to promote impact Promotion of interdisciplinary research [reaching out to other research disciplines throughout consortium] Instruments Joined-up planning of research strategy across network High quality graduate training programme New faculty positions and graduate studentships Video-con to support research training and collaborations

14 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Governance Started rather ad-hoc and delayed recruitment SEPnet staff – Independent Chair – Respected Academic – Executive Director – Management – Outreach Director – Employability Director Steering Board – PVC/Dean level Heads of Department – Chaired by Executive Director Research Theme Chairs Now Established – Science Advisory Panel – Employer Advisory Panel

15 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Achievements so far Governance – Chair and Exec Director – Science and Employer Advisory Panels Outreach – Activity with around 300,000 school students and public in first 3 years – Direct contact with over 1/3 all SE and London schools so far Employer Engagement – Summer studentships, employers engaged Videoconference suites commissioned Graduate School – RDI Masters – EuroMasters – NExT 21 Fellowships appointed 34 PhD studentships funded and filled

16 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Achievements - Outreach Contact Group2010-20112009-20102008-2009 Schools465311Unknown Teachers1072448Unknown Students34,362 26,000 (approx) Unknown General public 53,076 (approx.) 12,776Unknown Total number of significant contacts: 89,977 Additional exposure at large-scale events 146000 (approx.) Total number of contacts: Approx. 235,977 Approx. 39,000 Approx. 18,000

17 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Undergraduate trends

18 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Achievements so far… Additional Institutions – Portsmouth joined SEPnet (and a new university offering Physics) Research Themes – RDI in progress – NeXT well established and expanding – Astro: LOFAR-UK Commisioned and operational – ACM: Hubbard Centre established Evolving use of Web Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn SEPnet Undergraduate Numbers – Cohort size up 70% 2011 versus 2007 – Applications up 40% Mar 2011 v Total 2010 (15% nationally) Indirect benefits throughout each department – UG growth sustains the departments – SEPnet appointments spread the teaching loads and increases research capability

19 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Employer Engagement Positive feedback from employers I work in materials and wouldnt have considered hiring a Physics Graduate – but I will now Hiring manager, BMW My SEPnet students were excellent, and will both get papers out of it – very unusual for an undergraduate, and something which will vastly increase their academic careers. Alan Drew, Queen Mary, University of London

20 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Employer Engagement Other areas of engagement Employer Advisory Panel meets three times per year Working with sector skills councils and businesses to identify ways to address skills gaps in STEM A SEPnet presence at relevant conferences

21 Working together to promote excellence in Physics 21 Graduate School Director: Dr A. Belyaev (Southampton), assisted by a graduate-school committee (1 rep per node.) Academic year 2009/10 has been the first full year, with 14 students, and is open to all graduate students at the nodes. Rich programme of core (QFT, Standard Model, Phenomenology, Group Theory) and non-core courses (Computational tools, Event generators, statistics, Neutrinos and Cosmology, BSM, Flavour, Strings, Lattice,...). QMUL (not yet NExT..) already contributes to the courses. NExT students MUST take both theory and experiment modules. Delivery by video-conferencing (Access Grid). Crucial role here of SEPnet cash (£40k/node), and unstinting efforts of IT experts at the various nodes to overcome teething problems.. Plan to record lectures next academic year (2010/11).

22 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SEPnet: SAP 17 Sep 2010 22 Graduate School (2)

23 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Euromasters

24 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Particle Physics: NExT NExT was created in 2006 with a joint RAL-Southampton appointment To further the goals of Particle Physics through the fostering and promotion of interactions between theory and experiment in an inter-disciplinary and multi-sited environment SEPnet has provided a major enhancement to the NExT Institute and made us what we are today. A collaboration between four Particle Physics Departments Royal Holloway, University of London Rutherford Appleton Laboratory University of Southampton University of Sussex

25 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Research - NExT Two new partners (Sussex and RHUL) Substantial faculty expansion in particle theory/phenomenology – Royal Holloway (from 0 to 2) – Southampton (from 9 to 12) – Sussex (from 3 to 5) STFCs Theory Grants Round 2011 – Successful joint RHUL/Sussex bid (2PD+1PhD) Expanding to include QMUL – SEPnet agreed to part fund a joint Soton/QM PhD

26 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Regional strengths in A&CM research Highly correlated systems Quantum coherence Nanoscience Southampton Mountbatten Nanofabrication Centre Centre for Nanotechnology London Universities STFC diamond Hubbard Theory Institute RHUL London Low Temperature Laboratory RHUL Doctoral Training Centre: Neutrons and X-rays RHUL Quantum circuits AMO Group Sussex Strong light-matter coupling in nanostructures Southampton Advanced Technology Institute Surrey Nanomaterials Kent QMUL Surrey Southampton high T C superconductor probed by muon spin resonance (ISIS)

27 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Research – ACM SEPnet SAP: Hubbard theory consortium impressive and an exemplar on what can be achieved collaboratively

28 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Kent QMUL Sussex Southampton Solar System Radio Stars & Planets Portsmouth Oxford Cosmology Galaxies

29 Working together to promote excellence in Physics LOFAR: Chilbolton chosen as first site STFC-owned site First LOFAR-UK station LBA installed 11 th June Also has high-quality 25m dish which could be added to e-MERLIN

30 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Develop Radiation Detector Physics research at SEPnet universities in collaboration with external associated nodes and partners for Particle Physics, Nuclear Physics and Astronomy, as well as Applied Radiation Physics Link directly with STFC to build a critical mass of Radiation Detector research to support regional activity in line with national science priorities and agendas as they are developed by STFC and by other research councils Form a hub of extended networks of partnerships between SEPnet and regional industrial partners as well as research institutions at the Harwell Campus and elsewhere Create a new joint Surrey-Sussex MSc in Radiation Detection and Instrumentation to contribute to the SEPnet Graduate School 30 Main Objectives of the SEPnet RDI Research Theme

31 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SAP Feedback There are a lot of positives about SEPnet. It has laid the foundations for collaboration; collaborations are happening and it must now keep the momentum going and apply this to the emerging funding environment where SEPnet will have a head start as an existing collaboration. SEPnet has the potential to transform the physics performed at the participating institutions and the region and must build on the established foundations to exploit its transformational potential. The institutions must resist the temptation to retreat into their core strengths as the funding environment changes and, instead, use SEPnet as the vehicle to set the agenda for physics in the region.

32 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Sustainability In response to the second annual report on SEPnet, HEFCE asked –we look to SEPnet to develop its thinking on how to secure a sustainable future for its goals beyond the period of HEFCE funding. We realise that the funding landscape contains many uncertainties at the moment but ask that you engage in a dialogue with partner higher education institutions to chart a way forward. Please include in SEPnets next annual monitoring report plans for its future sustainability.

33 Working together to promote excellence in Physics THE FUTURE

34 Working together to promote excellence in Physics New Issues A Market; many possibilities: – Demand side STEM becomes more popular because of better career earnings so expansion Students prefer to study in mainland Europe at lower cost – Supply side Arts/Humanities are more profitable and have good A-levels so expand Use profit to subsidise some science and engineering but not all Intake in many institutions not AAB at A-level so constrained volume and not in low-cost subjects

35 Working together to promote excellence in Physics New Issues (cont.) Demand side – Overseas student market threatened by Europe/Australia at UG and PGT Supply Side – Research Council funding more targeted by concentration – Algorithmic funding of PhD students hits just those institutions with difficulty expanding UG numbers in STEM – Dangers to institutions educating significant numbers in physics, chemistry, engineering

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41 A Possible SEPnet Future Considerable interest in continuing SEPnet Low expectation of (much) continued HEFCE funding Funding likely to be via institutions – Increased student numbers – Increased grant income – Increased QR funding – Use of appropriate Access Agreement funds – Matched by (eg) DTCs and other sources Programmes to continue – Outreach, – employer programmes – PhD studentships – Research coordination and planning – Collaborative Postgraduate Teaching Seek to establish critical mass in key areas

42 Working together to promote excellence in Physics PhD Students Roughly 30%-40% of SEPnet graduates go on to MSc or PhD placements (many in their UG institution) – How will they be funded in the future? – What PG opportunities will there be regionally and nationally? Across SEPnet EPSRC and STFC PhD funding is in decline – Concentration of funding – Overall RC funding real term decline – Loss of EPSRC Project studentships Numbers overall have increased: – Assisted by SEPnet – Industry, EU and self funded – foreign governments Diversification key to maintain PhD placements to support research Reduction of opportunity has long term risks to teaching, research strength and the broader economy

43 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Emerging Risks Undergraduate fees – Demonstrating the value of Physics – Disincentive for: 4 year Integrated Masters Any fee paying PGT course Reduce the pipeline of qualified PhD students – Widening participation issues Student Number controls – AAB+ – Contestable places at the low fee end – Likely to produce a squeezed middle Research Council funding – Fewer PhD places – Concentration of the remaining PhD places via DTC, DTA – Equipment-facility sharing Impact: – Largest on middle of sector – On the medium/long term research and teaching pipelines – Fewer PhDs and Masters level students entering industry

44 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SEPnet 2 A Future model for more disciplines Cultural Challenges – Most money flows with UG students – Only bursary, WP earmarked at Institutional level – Cross-subsidies – Collaborating/Sharing – Overheads reduced – Not every institution able to research?

45 Working together to promote excellence in Physics SEPnet 2 Research – Future PhD student feed Engineering –industry Science, fund internally or....? – Facilities Effective models for sharing? – Shaping Capability Opportunity or threat?

46 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Research PhD Studentships valued and desire to provide – How many? – How to fund? – Some partners will find easier than others SEPnet has a key role in facilitating collaborations and critical mass SEPnet should contribute to REF submissions (as per SUPA in 2008) Need to explore in more detail (RSG) Identify a Grand Challenge, e.g. Energy SEPnet SAP recommend deepening collaboration as this is where the Value will be seen – Consider contributing to a PhD studentship pool

47 Working together to promote excellence in Physics REF 2014 No appetite for a full blown joint REF submission Agreed to include SEPnet text in each submission (within the constraints of the templates) Each partner will review this part of each others submissions Will determine review rights to the other parts at another time SEPnet investments should raise the scores at each partner SEPnet contributions to Environment and Impact should raise further Aim for mention in the report similar to that obtained by SUPA in 2008

48 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Summary The partners want SEPnet to continue The priorities are generally agreed – Outreach, Employability, Research The funding environment remains uncertain Proposed outline plan in 2011 annual report Work out the detailed plan in 2012 as the environment becomes clearer – The devil will be in the detail Is the SEPnet model useful for the future?

49 Working together to promote excellence in Physics Thank you


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