Women account for one in four maths and engineering students


One in four students enrolled on engineering, computer science and maths higher education courses in 2016/17 were women, new figures show.

Men taking subjects in computer science, engineering and technology and mathematical sciences outnumbered women at 247,375 to 62,680 in the last full academic year, according to a Press Association analysis of the latest data, published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa).

And there has been little growth in take-up of science courses over five years, with the number of women enrolling in those subject areas at all levels of higher education rising from 24.4% in 2012/13 to 25.3% in 2016/17.

University student enrolments by Stem subject (PA Graphics)
University student enrolments by Stem subject (PA Graphics)

The Government has focused efforts on encouraging women and girls at schools and colleges to take science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects and there have long been calls for greater equality in the science and technology industries.

The number of women opting to take subjects from across those three topic areas as their first degree increased modestly from 23.5% in 2012/13 to 23.7% in the last academic year - a rise of 4,970 women in real terms.

When maths is not included, the number of women students fell to one in five across all higher education levels.

Overall across all science subjects defined by Hesa, which also include medicine, biological and veterinary sciences, some 548,485 women took them in 2016/17 compared with 510,055 five years ago.

This represents growth of 7.5% in five years, compared with a 3.7% increase in men taking science subjects over the same period.

HE Student Data is HESA's new #OpenData release of 2016/17 student stats - answering Who? What? and Where? -https://t.co/6lnohMliyK#HEstudent1617pic.twitter.com/qKNnqUVKOd

-- HESA UK (@ukhesa) February 8, 2018

Nearly three in five (57%) of all undergraduate students across all subjects were women.

Hesa said the statistics also revealed that a record number of students started postgraduate courses in 2016/17 - a total of 344,325 representing a rise of 8% on the previous year.

Three in five (59%) of these new postgraduate students were women and two in five were non-UK residents.

China was at the top in terms of the number of first-year non-UK resident students in the last academic year, representing one in five overseas students in total and remaining above those coming from the EU.

Of all students in 2016/17, 12% were known to have a disability.

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