The latest UCAS data shows that more students are choosing to pursue technology degrees in UK universities, as evidenced by the 50% jump in computer science course admissions in the past ten years. At the same time, 21% more students were accepted into engineering courses, driven by an increase in demand from 18-year-old British students. Business, psychology, and law courses are also accepting more students, but a clear decline is seen in the study of languages.
Besides that, students are also making career decisions based on timely demand. For example, 57% more students were accepted into nursing courses (despite the removal of NHS bursaries in 2017) — a trend connected to the increased visibility of the National Health Service (NHS) due to COVID-19. At the same time, medical courses acceptance is at a record high, growing 37% since 2017. UCAS Chief Executive Clare Merchant believes the increased interest in engineering and medical degrees are a response to economic cues.
Lydia Amarquaye, Education Policy Adviser of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, finds it encouraging that more students are seeing the value and employability of engineers. “In Engineering UK’s briefing paper “Young people and COVID-19,” it was seen that young people were generally more aware of the role that engineers played in the effort to combat the pandemic. Some were also more aware of the importance of having a job that enabled them to make a positive societal contribution. This group of people, labelled as “Social Artists” in an Institution of Mechanical Engineers report “Five Tribes: Personalising Engineering Education,” may have previously not seen engineering as a career that was useful for addressing societal needs,” she elaborated in a statement.
Artificial intelligence most popular of new technology degrees
While it’s no secret that engineering and computer science subjects have grown in leaps and bounds in the past decade, the latest UCAS data reveals a more pertinent fact. Artificial intelligence (AI) courses saw a 400% jump in acceptance in the past 10 years LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report corroborates by illustrating how the demand for AI experts has grown 74% annually over the past five years, making it the number one emerging job today.
“AI degrees will attract a wider range of students than ever as AI becomes essential to solving ethical challenges in every sector of the economy and society,” opines Julia Adamson, Director of Education at the British Computer Society. The society has supported universities since computing technology degrees were introduced. Today, it plays a crucial role in embedding ethical and professional good practice in Machine Learning and Data Science courses.
The spike in tech course admissions symbolises a critical transformation in the global workforce — one that is learning to optimise technological practices for future applications. International students who pursue these degrees abroad are able to return to their home countries with the expertise to lead the next wave of digital revolutions.