Elementary rise in chemistry students at university

21 October 2010

The number of chemistry students in Higher Education increased by more than any other core science, official UCAS figures revealed today.

A 10.4% increase meant 4,290 students were accepted on courses in 2010 - the biggest annual increase on record. Those studying biology and physics increased by 6.6% and 2.8% respectively.

Royal Society of Chemistry president Professor David Phillips said the statistics reflected how much young people are prepared to challenge themselves by studying a rigorous degree that provides a variety of employment opportunities.

"The 10.4% increase in numbers of students entering chemistry courses is especially welcome given the high number of unsuccessful university applicants," he said. "This trend reinforces the message that all students should select courses wisely, and choose subjects which will be most likely to lead to gainful employment on graduation.

"The 'hard' sciences, especially chemistry, provide an excellent route to a variety of employment opportunities, while offering a stimulating and practical experience while studying. The fact the figure has risen so much is elementary when you take that into consideration."

One in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research, according to a recent report commissioned by the RSC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Industries reliant on chemistry contributed 258 billion to the UK economy in 2007 - equivalent to 21% of UK GDP and supported six million jobs, accounting for at least 15% of the UK's exported goods and attracting significant inward investment.

Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the RSC, said: "The Royal Society of Chemistry has continued to promote the importance of chemistry in either leading or underpinning major developments in everything from personal lifestyle to corporate and global activities. There are rewarding careers both in and from chemistry, which are capturing the imagination of students. That is why this is good news for science, and it is good news for the future of this country."

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