Computer science has been named the fastest-growing A-level STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subject by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
According to the Institute’s analysis, results day (10 August) this year saw an 11% increase in the number of students earning an A-level grade in the discipline. Not only this, but more female students than any previous year have achieved a grade in the subject, more than half of whom have been awarded an A or A*.
Compared to last year, the subject saw 13% more female A-level entries, with BCS’s research showing that A-level enrolments from young women have increased by more than 350% since 2015.
In Scotland, 17% of computer science highers have been granted to female students this year.
Data shows that women now comprise 15% of all A-level entries and are generally achieving higher grades. More than 51% (compared to 45% in 2020) of female students received a ‘high’ grade this year, compared to 43% (35% in 2020) of male students.
The Institute has welcomed the rise in female participation, which has subsequently driven a 9% surge in the number of young women pursuing the subject at undergraduate (UG) level across the UK. This trend is mirrored across the whole of this year’s cohort, which overall, has seen highest number of students being accepted into computer science degrees in the last decade. According to Ucas data, there has been a 5% increase in UG computer science graduates compared to 2020. Over the last 10 years, student demand for the subject has soared by 60%.
“Computing is a rich and creative subject which can lead to exciting and rewarding careers, as well as skills which are in high demand from employers, and will help to address the digital skills gap” – Julia Adamson, BCS
Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, said: “More young people than ever before are choosing to study computer science at university. Computing is a rich and creative subject which can lead to exciting and rewarding careers, as well as skills which are in high demand from employers, and will help to address the digital skills gap.”
There are variations across UK countries, with the number of students from England gaining acceptance to computer science degrees increasing by 6%; from Scotland, up 5%; while numbers in Wales remain the same; and enrolments in Northern Ireland have declined by 14%.
The study confirms computer science as the fastest-growing STEM-based A-level, with numbers in England rising by 12%, compared to 6.4% for STEM subjects overall (including: maths and further maths, computer science, biology, physics and chemistry).
Student appetites for the subject are also expanding in Scotland, with the nation seeing a 7% growth in the number of students being awarded a computer science higher.
“We’re particularly pleased to see rising numbers of female students choosing to study computer science at A-level and as a degree and hope this will lead to an increasingly diverse workforce in tech industries,” added Adamson.
“Congratulations to everyone receiving their results today. We know students and teaching staff have worked incredibly hard through a challenging year.”