A TOTAL of £2 million has been awarded to a new academy designed to encourage more physics graduates into technical careers.

The White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA), a new collaboration between the Universities of York and Sheffield and technical industry partners, has been awarded the grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Thanks to investment from the two universities and their industrial partners, total investment in the project, including the new HEFCE Catalyst award, now amounts to £5 million.

As well as encouraging more graduates into technical careers, the Academy aims to build stronger relationships between industry and university physics departments, and contribute to the economic success of partner companies.

Professor Thomas Krauss, from the University of York’s department of physics, will lead the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy.

He said: “I am very excited to lead the academy and add another dimension to our excellent physics education.

“Employers tell us they need highly qualified students with technical and problem-solving skills to fuel economic growth, while our students have expressed a keen interest in the academy as they are taking employability issues more seriously nowadays.”

Physics-based businesses directly contribute £77 billion to the UK economy, but often report finding it difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of suitably qualified graduates and postgraduates.

At the same time, students are often not aware of the range of physics employment opportunities open to them, or lack the essential skills for entering these technical careers. Professor John Robinson, York’s pro-vice-chancellor for teaching, learning and information, said: “Through the new academy, our aim is to excite graduates about the opportunities offered by scientifically challenging careers in industry and to provide them with the skills they need for employment success.”