A Level results day reveals slight rise in STEM subjects

Rate of those entering the three core science subjects has decreased as a whole, however

The Campaign for Science and Engineering has revealed that although the number of students sitting exams in core science subjects has increased year-on-year, science uptake is still falling.

More than 33,000 STEM exams were entered in 2015, up from 32,500 in 2014, with maths being the most popular STEM subject (with an increase of 0.2 per cent year-on-year of the total exam subjects). However, for the first time since 2009, the number of students signing up to sit exams in core science subjects including biology, chemistry, and physics dropped.

Biology has traditionally been the most popular science subject, but it noted a 0.3 per cent decrease over the last year.

The number of people signing up to chemistry fell by 0.2 per cent, while physics fell 0.1 per cent of the total examinations sat by students.

Martin Turner, a policy adviser at the Campaign for Science and Engineering commented: "In particular it is encouraging to see the rise in the number of students now taking computing A-level - up 30 per cent on last year following recent changes to the course."

"It is pleasing to see a rise in exam entries for core STEM subjects like computing and maths," added Mark Wilkinson, managing director of SAS UK and Ireland. "These subjects provide a fantastic pathway to the careers that will stimulate and grow our economy. The need for a rich mix of science, technology and mathematically minded talent is crucial to our competitiveness in the global information economy."

The report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering also revealed that STEM subjects are becoming more gender-balanced with almost a 50/50 split in those taking chemistry and the girls catching up with boys in both physics and computing.

"The opportunity to inform and nurture brilliant minds starts in the classroom by introducing today's challenges and technology earlier in the learning process," continued Wilkinson. "This will better prepare tomorrow's workforce for using data to make better, evidence-based decisions, so that UK businesses remain competitive."

UCAS reported that more than 409,000 students were accepted into UK universities and colleges yesterday, which is up three per cent on 2014.

"More UK 18 year olds will benefit from higher education in 2015 than in any year previously. More students in total have been placed at their first choice, an increase of 3% on 2014," Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS chief executive, commented.

"This is an impressive outcome, given the slightly slower growth in the UK application rate."

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