Engineers welcome rise in A-level students taking science

Engineers have welcomed another rise in the proportion of students taking maths and science A levels.

The number of maths entries, including further maths, rose by 7.4 per cent while physics increased by 6.1 per cent, chemistry by 9.2 per cent and biology by 7.2 per cent.

These increases were higher than the rise in the total number of A-level exams taken, meaning the proportion of students studying science and maths also rose for the second year running.

‘This is great news for British engineering and for the country as a whole, pointing towards a brighter future for the profession,’ said Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

‘The dearth of young people taking the science subjects needed for an engineering career has created a skills shortage that is holding this country back. It’s now crucial that the government puts measures in place to sustain this increase.’

Imran Kahn, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), also welcomed the rise but warned against complacency, calling on the government to introduce compulsory maths study for over-16s.

‘Over the past five years we’ve seen a 40 per cent increase in the number of students studying maths and a nearly 20 per cent increase in those taking physics and chemistry, when the overall number of A-levels being taken has increased by just 7.7 per cent,’ he said.

‘However, we cannot get complacent. Despite physics breaking into the top 10 A-levels subjects this year, we’ve only just got back to 2002 levels in terms of entries.

‘An international comparison of 24 countries showed that England, Wales and Northern Ireland were the only ones in which fewer than 20 per cent of students study maths post-16. We desperately need to keep up the momentum.’

Click here to read why we shouldn’t get carried away with today’s A-level results on The Engineer’s blog.