Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2005
Q60 Chairman: How much are you being
offered to move?
Ms Miles: We are being offered
up to £2000 relocationbut that is up to and
I cannot really see getting very much of that. At the moment they
are pressurising us to go to Bristol or Bath for the regional
aspect of it. I am not sure how that works and what sort of funding
it is, but they are pressuring us to go there, and from my personal
point of view I do not really want to go. I did not go to Exeter
because of where it was, it was because of the university, and
I am looking at going to Leeds and I have not really had that
much help in getting there, I have had to go off and do it all
Q61 Chairman: Are you having a choice
of courses thrust at you?
Ms Miles: They have said to us
that we can transfer on to any other course in the university,
but from a personal point of view again chemistry is all I want
to do. A few of my friends are doing chemistry and law and they
have decided to go on to law, but that is just because they do
not really know what to do and they are panicking about being
lost and not knowing.
Q62 Chairman: Why are Bath and Bristol
being chosen and not Cambridge and Oxford?
Ms Miles: Bath and Bristol are
being chosen because they are the local universities.
Q63 Chairman: Local universities?
Ms Miles: To Exeter, yes; they
are playing a regional card and trying to keep us as we were.
Q64 Chairman: But you do not pick
the university because it is local, do you?
Ms Miles: No. I am originally
from Buckinghamshire and I want to go to Leeds. So it is about
the same distance to Leeds as it is to Exeter, so it makes no
difference to me whereabouts it is.
Q65 Chairman: Do you think you will
manage that, going to Leeds?
Ms Miles: I went up and saw them
on Friday and they seemed very happy.
Q66 Chairman: There is a chance?
Ms Miles: Yes.
Q67 Chairman: What do you others
think about this kind of situation? Do you fear it might happen?
Are students talking about it?
Mr Hutton: They are not talking
about it at my university. I do not know. I guess, what are the
reasons for the closures? Is it because science is unfashionable,
or is it because science departments are expensive to run in the
university? Then that brings into question all the pros and cons
about having research-based science faculties or science faculties
which literally just teach, and how that impinges on costs.
Q68 Chairman: There have been threats
of closures at UEA.
Mr Hutton: What, for biology?
Q69 Chairman: Not in biology but
in other departments. If you think not just about yourself perhaps,
but other students and what they think potentially closing and
having to move? Because you guys have been through it, Amy and
Stephen, at your universities?
Mr Rowley: Yes, but I did not
have to move it, they just ran the course out until everyone was
through. So it was different in that sense.
Ms Miles: It is huge at our university,
we are all talking about it at the moment because our Vice-Chancellor
has made the point in the Senate meeting about the fact that if
chemistry is not closed other subjects would have to be closed.
So a lot of other subjects are now panicking and a lot of people
are worrying about their degrees and there are lots of rumours
going around and lots of panic, and they were talking about closing
the Italian and music, and it was sort of across the board, and
there is quite a lot of widespread panic actually at the moment
about degrees being cut off and no one really knows what is going
Q70 Chairman: There is a court case
pending, is there not?
Ms Miles: Yes.
Q71 Dr Turner: So you will not be
able to have an Italian with a chemistry degree in Exeter!
Ms Miles: No!
Q72 Dr Turner: Not many people obviously
go into science related careers without having an undergraduate
science degree, although the relationship is not absolutely absolute.
How much did your career aspirations and interests affect your
choice of undergraduate course? Danielle, you have done chemistry,
you are interested in forensic science. Did you take career advice
about that, for instance?
Ms Miles: I did because I was
looking into doing forensics and I was told that if I do chemistry
it is probably a better degree to have because I can still get
into forensics, but it does not narrow down my options too early,
and also I get a more wide ranged and in depth chemistry than
I would have with forensics because you would be looking at other
aspects and not just chemistry with it.
Q73 Dr Turner: You had some sound
career advice because we have been looking at forensic science
in another inquiry, but what was the experience of the rest of
you with the quality of the career advice you got into the relevance
of the subjects that you were proposing to study? Amy?
Ms Huntington: I knew I wanted
to study physics. It was not because I wanted to do X as a career.
What my career advice was, basically, if that is what you want
to do it is not going to harm you in most career choices.
Q74 Dr Turner: Yes, you could end
up making a fortune in the City with a physics degree, I can assure
you. Ian, you want a biological career presumably?
Mr Hutton: Yes, but I was given
similar advice as well, that a biology degree is a very good degree
to have because of the transferable skills and if I wanted to
do something else then it would not really be a problem to transfer
at a later stage, and I had the time of my degree to make up my
Q75 Dr Turner: Stephen, did you get
good career advice from the point of view of engineering?
Mr Rowley: I think so, yes. I
was aware I wanted to do something that got me out and about;
I did not want to be stuck behind a desk and things like that.
They made me aware that there was going to be a shortage of good
engineers, so it might be a good way to go.
Q76 Dr Turner: This makes you all
fairly unusual, although you are clearly not sure, Amy, because
you are all obviously envisaging careers which are directly going
to use some of the content of your undergraduate degrees. Do you
feel that this makes you very unusual in your student body? Do
other students feel the same?
Ms Miles: I have been asking a
couple of my friends about that and a lot of my friends are actually
thinking about going into teaching. Some of them are looking to
go into chemistry teaching, sort of lecturing. I have one friend
who is looking to doing special needs teaching, but she wanted
to get a good degree behind hernot just any degreeto
get into it. She wanted a good one, that if she came out of university
and she had been inspired by lecturers and research that had been
going on, that she could then carry on with the degree that she
had done and it was something that interested her, rather than
just doing any old degree and to get into a teaching college.
Q77 Dr Turner: Most scientific careers
also involve some postgraduate education. Are any of you thinking
of following your undergraduate degree with a postgraduate course?
Mr Hutton: I am currently toying
with whether to or not really, I guess.
Q78 Chairman: Why are you toying
with it and not being determined with it at this stage? Are you
not good enough, do you think? Or bad enough!
Mr Hutton: I think it is that
I have spoken to a lot of my lecturers and being in the third
year you come into a lot more contact with contract research staff,
and I have considered the career prospects and the job prospects
after having done, say, a PhD and then several post-docs, a lot
of them seem to bounce around from contract to contract with no
real security, and if I had worked that hard to get that qualified
and have a PhD then I would want to find myself in a more stable
environment than that. Whereas if I went, say, into industry and
got recruited by a company now then I would have a set career
path and a clear-ish future.
Dr Turner: So have any of you been deterred
in your future choices
Chairman: Amy is doing a PhD.
Q79 Dr Turner: . . . by the very
problem that you have just raised, of the insecurity of post-docsand
I know all about that, I have been there and it is very uncomfortable.
It has worried you, Ian, has it worried the rest of you?
Ms Miles: To be honest with you,
I have only just started and so I have not really thought that
much into it, so I would not be able to say on that.