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Non-nuclear energy

EURAC

Fission and radiation protection
Fusion
   

Securing European Radiological Protection and Radioecology Competence to meet the Future Needs of Stakeholders

A recent OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency report ‘Nuclear Education and Training: Cause for Concern?’ showed that many nations were probably training too few scientists to meet the needs of their current and future nuclear industries. In Europe, of particular concern are special skill-base deficits within nuclear radiological protection, radioecology and radiochemistry at Masters and doctorate levels. EURAC will strengthen the scientific academic competence and analytical skills within these areas to secure the future recruitment of appropriately skilled postgraduates to meet the needs of European stakeholders.


Ensuring human resources for radio protection

The OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency's report ‘Nuclear Education and Training: Cause for Concern?’, published in 2000, showed that many nations were training too few scientists to meet the needs of their current and future nuclear industries. Additional studies undertaken by some European governments to determine the health of their national nuclear education programmes confirmed the OECD/NEA findings; less student interest, lower course numbers, ageing faculty members, and facilities requiring renewal. Consequently, the European educational skillbase has become fragmented to a point where universities in most countries lack sufficient staff and equipment to provide education in all but a few nuclear sectors.

Of particular concern – to the European Commission, authorities, industry and professional, university-based scientists – are the special skill-base deficits within nuclear radiological protection, radioecology and radiochemistry at Masters and doctorate levels. It is contended that skills in these areas are of strategic, as well as immediate, importance for the maintenance of nuclear operations and options within the evolving EU economy. They are also important for meeting the challenges presented by unpredicted nuclear events such as the Windscale fire, the Chernobyl accident, as well as terrorist and sabotage activities.

Strengthening academic competence, infrastructure and mobility

The objectives of EURAC are to strengthen the scientific academic competence and analytical skills within radiological protection, radioecology and radiochemistry, and to secure the future recruitment of appropriately skilled postgraduates to meet the needs of European stakeholders. EURAC will assess the current and potential levels of postgraduate university provision in these disciplines within the EU and acceding nations – paying particular attention to scientific and administrative issues, infrastructural requirements, constraints and issues of human mobility.

Based on consultations with stakeholders, EURAC will focus on innovative solutions and best coordinated practice within the current provision base. The project will assess current and potential levels of postgraduate university provision in selected, linked disciplines within European higher education institutions. Education specialists with strong industry links with responsibility for the development of postgraduate programmes and the supervision of research students will undertake the study. The EURAC team will pay particular attention to scientific and administrative issues, infrastructural requirements, constraints and issues of human mobility, and will take into account the Bologna Joint Declaration on the development of coordinated postgraduate education programmes within the EU.

Postgraduate syllabuses, ensuring student recruitment

EURAC will propose actions to secure the future of nuclear (as opposed to medical) radiological protection, radiochemistry and radioecology postgraduate education in the enlarged EU. The feasibility of a variety of possible provision models to deliver agreed postgraduate syllabuses will be examined, and the project will coordinate its activities with those of other EU FP6-funded projects (NEPTUNO and CETRAD) which are developing innovative solutions to similar issues within other nuclear science disciplines.

EURAC will strengthen the scientific academic competence and analytical skills within radiological protection, radiochemistry and radioecology in Europe and secure the future recruitment of appropriately skilled postgraduates to meet the needs of European stakeholders. It will recommend actions that could be taken within the EU to help meet the postgraduate education needs it identifies. By determining existing competence and infrastructures, EURAC will estimate future scientific needs at Master and PhD degree level and the requirements for underpinning research facilities, equipment and technology. The solutions developed for educational provision may include enhanced national (with a European dimension), regional and European coordinated education programmes that could be developed to meet the needs of stakeholders.

Improved public safety, harmonizing expertise

The safety of the public, during any major nuclear incident and in everyday situations that expose the population to ionising radiation, is critically dependent on the skills of experts in nuclear radiological protection, radioecology and radiochemistry. Events such as Chernobyl have shown that major incidents, even well outside its borders, can impact across the EU and that the response to them involves all Member States. By ensuring that the correct quantity and quality of experts trained to Masters and doctorate levels will continue to be available in all Member States, EURAC will maintain the level of protection for citizens.

Establishing harmonised levels of quality for equivalent qualifications and creating opportunities for the exchange of students between countries is also valuable as regards enhancing public safety. A uniform level of quality of expertise can be established in all Member States and an early basis for long-term international collaborations created that will benefit future transnational working.

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