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A-level results show decline in IT student numbers

Jenny Williams

This year's A-level results show a continued decline in the number of students gaining IT-related qualifications.

The results show a 1.8% drop in the number of students taking IT-related A-levels, with 15,962 students studying for ICT and computing A-levels in 2011, compared with 16,251 last year.

The number of students taking IT courses has fallen by 49% since 2006 - down to 15,962 from 20,441 five years ago.

Some 4,002 students received a Computing A-level in 2011, compared with 4,065 last year - a drop of 1.5%. Computing A-level explores hardware, software and programming techniques.

Students gaining an ICT A-level dropped 1.6% despite a slight increase in student numbers last year. A total of 11,960 students received an A-level in ICT this year, compared with 12,186 last year. The syllabus covers the processing and communication of information using computer systems, as well as understanding the use of ICT within a business context.

Year Subject Number of candidates % of total A-levels sat
2004 ICT 16,106 2.1
2004 Computing 8,488 1.1
2005 ICT 14,883 1.9
2005 Computing 7,242 0.9
2006 ICT 14,208 1.8
2006 Computing 6,233 0.8
2007 ICT 13,360 1.7
2007 Computing 5,610 0.7
2008 ICT 12,277 1.5
2008 Computing 5,068 0.6
2009 ICT 11,948 1.4
2009 Computing 4,710 0.6
2010 ICT 12,186 1.4
2010 Computing 4,065 0.5
2011 ICT 11,960 1.4
2011 Computing 4,002 0.5

Source: Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ)

According to a report from the Committee of Public Accounts on value for money in further education, IT courses for students taking A-levels at school could be closed due to funding gaps.

Sector skills council E-Skills UK previously forecast that the IT professional workforce is to grow at four times the average for the UK and will need 500,000 new entrants over the next five years.

Students gaining AS-levels in ICT and Computing were more promising, with numbers rising from 27,133 last year to 29,197 in 2011.

Despite drops in the number of students studying IT courses, science and mathematics numbers continued to rise. Mathematics student numbers increased 7% year-on-year.

Jim Sinclair, director at the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: "The increase in the number of students taking maths and the sciences suggest that young people are listening to the repeated calls from industry for more people to study the STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects."

High traffic overloads UCAS website

UCAS reported problems with its website after high volumes of traffic tried to log on to retrieve exam results this morning.

"We are currently experiencing high demand on the UCAS Track site and full service will be resumed shortly. Apologies for any inconvenience caused," UCAS said On Twitter.

Some industry experts criticised UCAS's struggle to support high traffic volumes.

"In this day and age, there's no reason why increased traffic should cause a website to crash. For it to happen to UCAS on results day is inexcusable and has added more stress to what is already a tough day for prospective university students," said Michael Allen, director of application performance management solutions at Compuware.

"Every year, we know students will be rushing to the website on A-Level results day and UCAS should be in a great position in that it knows exactly how many students have applied for university and should therefore be in a good position to predict website traffic," he added.

  • Call UCAS's exam results helpline for further advice and information: 0808 100 8000.


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