UK: More studying engineering and physical sciences

More students have been accepted into science and engineering-related degree courses this autumn, Britain's University and Colleges Admissions Service says. Science is also now the most popular subject at school according to a new poll of children aged five to 18.

Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Dave Delpy, welcomed the news, saying this strengthened the case for supporting Britain's future scientists and engineers.

"With the increase in undergraduate interest in science and engineering, we anticipate greater numbers of PhD students applying for research funding over the years to come," Delpy said. "It is therefore more vital than ever to create a support network for schoolchildren to encourage them to engage with science and engineering at an early stage to help them become career scientists and engineers."

Admission figures compiled by the admissions service showed the number of students accepted in to engineering related degree courses was up 17% on 2008. The trend was repeated for physical sciences related subjects where the number was up almost 10%; applications in both areas have been rising steadily for the last five years and seem set to continue.

A poll conducted for the Young Scientist Centre found that more children are planning to opt for a science related subject at GCSE and A-Level and thereafter a career in science. Surprisingly, science is now the most popular subject at school and this means UCAS can expect even more degree applications in these areas in the years to come.

The survey of 2,000 children aged between five and 18 was conducted by online market research site in September, with the demographic breakdowns representative of the UK population.

Delpy said it was important to build on the increasing popularity of science and engineering: "The UK is world-leading in science and engineering research and it's great to see more students choosing to study subjects in these areas. It reflects the positive impact that science and engineering has on our society and we must encourage students to continue this tradition."