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2018 A-Level Results Reveal Rising Popularity of STEM Subjects

Dominique Adams


exam results

The recent A-level results have revealed a marked increase in the number of students opting to sit exams in STEM subjects, but despite this positive change there has been a slight decrease in the number of students accepted onto undergraduate courses. 

The results from the 2018 A-level results have, according to UCAS, revealed that the number of placed applicants, students placed onto courses, for science and technology subjects fell slightly from 111,820 in 2017 to 111,360 this year. In contrast, the Joint Council for Qualifications has said that the number of students sitting exams in STEM subjects has increased significantly.

Over a third of all 2018 A-level entries were in STEM subjects. In total, 36.2% of all A-level entries were in STEM qualifications, an increase from 2017 (34.5%). Computing enjoyed the largest increase of entries rising 23.9% with 10,286 students, up nearly a quarter from 8,299 last year. However, Maths remained the most popular subject with over 97,000 entries.

The proportion of girls taking computing rose slightly from 9.8% in 2017 to 11.8% this year. Although girls tended to achieve higher scores in Computing – 20.1% achieving A* or A versus 17.9% of boys – they remain in the minority with males making up 88% of the student base.

Results Promising for the Future

Institute of Coding (IoC) director Dr Rachid Houriz commented on the results: “Today’s results mark a major step in the academic journey of thousands of young people across the country, with many planning to enter further study at University and some big choices ahead.

“It’s absolutely critical that all those considering STEM courses at University level are fully aware of the huge career opportunities available in the tech sector, which is growing rapidly. UK business leaders are crying out for experts in everything from cyber skills to data analytics, paying significant salaries to ensure the best and brightest sign up to their respective organisations.”

Derek Richardson, from Pearson exam board, said: “Over the last five years females are very gradually closing the gap in terms of the proportion of STEM entries. It is very slow. I wouldn’t like to calculate how long that will take for that to be equally balanced.”

The number of students taking STEM subjects is increasing but the number of entrances to university level has declined, this contrast can be attributed to a decline in the number of results say university entries across all subjects.

UCAS found the number had declined for the second year in a row, falling a further 1% over last year. A total of 411,860 students from across the UK have been placed on undergraduate courses so far.

UCAS says this decline may coincide with an overall reduction of the number of 18-year-olds in the UK population. There are now 2.5% fewer 18-year olds in the UK population due to demographic changes. However, this could work in favour of students due to the drop in the number of applicants and universities are competing to attract those who have yet to be accepted onto a course.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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