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More students choose higher education computing courses

Enrolment in full-time computing and science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) courses in higher education increased last year

The number of students choosing to study computing at higher education level rose last year.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that the number of students enrolled in UK undergraduate computer science courses increased by 2% between the academic years of 2013-14 and 2014-15, while the number of undergraduates choosing to study engineering and technology courses rose by 3%.

There was also a rise in students taking other science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects, with 2% more undergraduates studying biological sciences, but mathematical sciences saw no change in undergraduate enrolment.

“There was an overall increase of 1% in full-time first-year enrolments in 2014 to 2015 and a 3% increase in science subjects,” the HESA report said.

“The proportion studying science subjects in 2014 to 2015 was 42% for first-year full-time enrolments, compared to 41% in 2013 to 2014.”

However, the number of women choosing to study computing at university level has barely changed from 2014 to 2015, remaining at about 15%, which it has been for the past few years.

In science overall, women make up 41% of undergraduates studying science-based subjects, including computer science and engineering and technology.

At postgraduate level, computer science saw a drop of 3% in first-year enrolments, while engineering and technology saw a 2% rise in postgraduate enrolment between the academic years of 2013-14 and 2014-15.

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The IT skills gap is of great concern to the technology industry and government, with a predicted 756,000 skilled workers needed to fill digital jobs across Europe by 2020.

But graduates claim they are unable to find jobs when they graduate, and the industry claims it cannot find graduates with the skills to fill jobs.

Many have called for alternative routes into technology careers to fill the skills gap, such as apprenticeship degrees, but as overall enrolments in higher education courses decreased by only 1% in the last academic year, it is possible these alternative routes into industry are not yet as popular as traditional degrees.

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