Fewer students opt for IT courses

A significant fall in the number of applications for university IT courses has left hundreds of computer-related courses up for...

A significant fall in the number of applications for university IT courses has left hundreds of computer-related courses up for grabs in the clearing system.

Applications for computer science courses this year were down 12% from the previous year, although the number of IT-based courses rose from 1,385 to 1,570. At the time of writing around 80% of university IT courses had vacancies.

University IT courses break down into four subject areas: computer science, information systems, software engineering and artificial intelligence. Applications for all of these courses are thought to be down on last year.

Signs that students are shunning technology courses comes as the IT industry struggles under its worst downturn for 10 years. Over the past few years companies have shed thousands of IT staff and consultants and trimmed back investment in new projects.

However, David Roberts, chairman of corporate forum TIF, said that the drop in applications for IT courses was unlikely to be linked to the downturn in the market.

He suggested that main problem was that IT lacked the status of other more established careers.

"It could be the case that IT is not seen as a profession in the same way as accounting or engineering, and we should look at elevating IT and getting recognition as a profession," he said.

Meanwhile, GCSE results out today showed that the number of candidates gaining grades A-C passes in IT was down fractionally (less than 1%) on the previous year. However, more than of candidates gained an A-C.

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