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Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research

Environmental MSc - a route into the nuclear industry

Executive Summary
ResearchersProfessor KE Jarvis, CEESR
Professor SJ Parry, Imperial College
Dr P Story, Health and Safety Executive - Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (HSE NII)
Dr N Couzens, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Funding Body/SourceBritish Energy, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Health & Safety Executive
Duration2007 - 2008
Project Summary

In 2003 a project was initiated by the Health and Safety Executive - Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to study the potential for graduates of environmental MSc courses to enlarge the pool of potential recruits into the nuclear industry. It followed publication of a report by the DTI which indicated that there would be a severe shortage of good science graduates to fill the increasing demand created by nuclear clean-up. The focus on masters courses was based on the fact that there is an increasing trend for graduates with good degrees in the physical sciences and engineering to continue their studies before embarking on a career.

Figure 1: Cherenkov radiation in the Consort Nuclear Reactor - photo copyright SJ Parry

However, teaching and research activities linked to the nuclear industry are fragmented at masters level, created, as they are, through informal alliances of individuals. The aim of this project is to take best practice from the current ad hoc arrangements and provide a formal system to help those academic institutions that do not have the links in place. The intention is to provide a portfolio of lecture days and project placements that will enable masters courses to benefit from stronger links with the nuclear industry, while at the same time allowing the industry players to access a wider pool of good science students.

A pilot scheme in 2007/8 will focus on ten academic institutions, providing a pool of about 200 students from which to identify suitable candidates for the programme, matched by a similar number from industry, who are already involved to some degree with academic organisations. The pilot will involve courses that have some nuclear teaching in order to get the programme off the ground. The intention is that it will be rolled out in future years to include environmental courses that do not currently contain any teaching on radioactivity, thus opening up a much larger pool of potential employees.

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