Engineering Europe

A-Level Results: Higher Numbers Head Into STEM As Engineers Scramble For Uni Spots

Written by Seb Murray | Engineering Europe | Thursday 13th August 2015 13:23:00 GMT

Number of STEM — science, engineering, technology and math— entries up by one-fifth, as students eye engineering degrees.

© Highwaystarz-Photography

© Highwaystarz-Photography

As pupils received their A-level grades across the UK today, one thing was clear: students are set to enter engineering in higher numbers. The number of A-level entries in science and math subjects have increased by more than 38,000 since 2010, up by 17%.

The number of STEM — science, engineering, technology and math— entries is up by nearly one-fifth.

In a sign that pupils are adapting to changing opportunities in the jobs market, entries for A-level computing have surged by nearly 30% on last year’s figures.

Math— a key route to engineering — has also firmly overtaken English as the most popular A-level subject, continuing the trend that began last year.

The number of girls taking STEM subjects at A-level has notably increased, with 10.6% more entries for math from girls.

Business reacted to the news with enthusiasm, hoping the growing pool of STEM students will address a worrying skills gap in the engineering sector in particular.

Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “In terms of addressing the skills gap in STEM subjects, businesses will be pleased to see the number of entries in these subjects continues to rise.”

He added that the growing number of computing entries is welcome evidence that “students recognize the need to build skills to compete in the modern economy”.

There is good news for potential university students too: UK universities are expected to offer a record number of places through clearing this year, following the government’s allocation of an estimated 60,000 extra university spots each year.

Clearing is a service university applicants can use to find courses with vacancies if they have applied late, or their results are not as expected.

Competition is expected to be fierce. Jennifer Dwyer, head of Queen’s University’s admissions and access service, said: “This can be an anxious time of year for students.”

Universities are expected to receive more than 200 phone applications over the next 48 hours as potential students scramble for places through the UCAS system.

“Universities, colleges and UCAS are under pressure over the next few days to ensure they can manage the influx of applications,” said Dave Paulding, a director at Interactive Intelligence, a communications firm.

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