24 January 2011

Chemical engineering celebrates record UK student intake


A record number of students chose to begin studying UK chemical engineering degree courses last year according to new figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

1820 students enrolled on chemical engineering undergraduate courses last year, the tenth successive year of growth. There are now a record number of students studying chemical engineering in the UK and the new figures are the latest step in a chemical engineering revival amongst students.

Chemical engineering applications and intake have both more than doubled over the past decade and universities in Westminster and Bradford have both launched and relaunched courses in the last year respectively.

Andrew Furlong, Director of Policy at the Institution of Chemical Engineers says the latest figures are good news for the economy: “The developing world is producing more high quality engineers and scientists and it’s essential that the UK has the skills to compete internationally to create the high value, technology based industries of the future.”

The decade of growth is testament to a collective effort by universities, industry employers and IChemE via its whynotchemeng campaign to improve perception and understanding of chemical engineering amongst young people, teachers and career advisors.

Whynotchemeng campaign manager Matt Stalker said: “The campaign was launched in 2001 to tackle the shortage of students opting to study chemical engineering at UK universities. Throughout the last decade, whynotchemeng has worked to ensure that UK teachers, parents and students have a better understanding of what chemical engineering is and the rewarding careers that a chemical engineering degree can open doors to.”

Figures published by the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) show that chemical engineering graduates typically command a starting salary of £27,000/y - the third highest graduate salary in the UK, bettered only by dentistry and medicine graduates. IChemE’s 2010 UK and Ireland salary survey revealed that less than 5% of 2009 chemical engineering graduates were still seeking employment by January.

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