22 January 2015

Chemical engineering undergraduate intake doubles in five years

ChemEngUndergraduates

The latest statistics published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), UK, show the number of students starting chemical engineering courses has nearly doubled over the past five years.

UCAS’s ‘end of cycle statistics’ for 2014 reported 3,575 undergraduates (2,790 in 2013) started a chemical engineering course – an annual increase of 28 per cent.

Over the past five years, the number of chemical engineering students (1,816 in 2009) has increased by 97 per cent, and by 62 per cent in just two years (2,201 in 2012).

Chemical engineering continues to be the most popular engineering career of choice for many women, with females accounting for one in four undergraduates in 2014, compared to 15 per cent for all engineering subjects.

The annual increase for all major UK engineering and science undergraduate courses was seven per cent in 2014, and 22 per cent since 2009.

Overall, UK undergraduates starting courses in 2014 exceeded half a million for the first time (512,370), an annual increase of three per cent and six per cent higher than five years ago.

Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) director of policy, Andy Furlong, said: “The recent major growth in chemical engineering undergraduates reflects the commitment of the profession, the global economic success of the chemical and process industries and investment by universities in their courses and academic teams.

“Students and parents also know that chemical engineering provides attractive salaries, global employment opportunities in some of the world’s biggest organisations, and has been largely recession proof since the economic downturn in 2008.

“However, this rapid expansion still presents some significant challenges for the academic chemical engineering community.

“Maintaining teaching standards and ensuring that undergraduates enjoy a high quality experience and the appropriate amount of contact time becomes more difficult as numbers grow.”

Furlong continued: “The recent growth trends and long-term demand for chemical engineers remains robust, but it is important to remember that no profession is immune to economic pressures.

“The current challenges faced by the oil and gas sector, albeit likely to be relatively short-term, are a good reminder that all undergraduates should research and choose their courses carefully.”

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