New fund aims to link 300 talented physics students with region’s hi-tech business sector

The University of Hull has been awarded £490,000 for a project that will create 300 internship and work experience opportunities for physics students across the region while also allowing hi-tech businesses to access a pool of new talent.

The money is part of a £5.6m funding pot from the Office for Students that aims to boost opportunities for graduates who seek work close to home.

The University of Hull’s Department of Physics is leading the universities of Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and York under the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy to create hundreds of opportunities for physics students over the next three years.

The funding will enable hi-tech businesses across the region to access a rich pool of talent and more are now being encouraged to come forward and get involved.

The academic lead for the project at the University of Hull, Dr Mossy Kelly, says: “This not only delivers some fantastic experiences for our students and allows them to get incredible work-based learning experience, it also gives businesses access to a wide range of talented young physicists who could deliver fresh ideas and thinking.

“The funding will remove barriers to work-based learning for students by covering travel and subsistence costs and we are calling on high tech businesses, particularly SMEs across the Yorkshire, Humberside, and East Midlands region to get involved. We’re happy to discuss the wide range of benefits and possibilities this could bring and then link them up with a physics student that can support what they are trying to achieve.”

Analysis of survey data from 2015-16 shows that 69% of graduates took their first job in their home region. Therefore, opportunities for progression into skilled employment for over two-thirds of graduates depend on the demand for graduate skills in their local regions. The OfS hopes this funding will enable universities to forge partnerships with employers to ensure that better use is made of local graduate skills.

Students will be hoping to emulate the success of Sam Reeder who has already secured a place with local industrial laser manufacturer Rofin-Sinar, fully-funded by the company.

Sam says: “Like many undergraduates, the big fear is knowing what you’re going to after leaving university. I wanted to see what the options out there are and the best way to do that is to experience it and see what the other side of physics looks like.

“When people think of physicists, people see them covered in equations and working to change the world from behind a desk and not in a factory making something. This placement is a chance for me to have a great summer learning amazing things from passionate people. It’s going to be life-changing.”

Another student who has secured a year-long placement at STFC, Joe Bradley, adds: “This will be an amazing opportunity that will help me stand out from the crowd when I finish my degree – I couldn’t turn it down. Physics is a broad field and this will be great way to see what it has to offer and what I want to do in the future.”