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UK sees 10% rise in female university computing applications
Mon, 26th Feb 2024

The British Computer Society (BCS) has shed light upon a 10 per cent increase in applications from UK women aged 18 to study computing at university in 2024. This latest surge marks the third consecutive year of growth. This development has been highlighted as a positive step towards ensuring the future fairness and safety of artificial intelligence (AI), according to BCS.

The Chartered Institute for IT examined application data up to the January deadline, receiving a total of 18,880 applications across the country this year. This tally signifies an uptick from the 17,140 applications lodged in 2023. Despite men continuing to dominate computer science applications at a rate of 4.1 to one this year, this gap has slightly narrowed from a rate of 4.4 to one, as reported at the same time in 2023.

Joanna Kori, Head of People at Encompass Corporation, noted that Generation Z members had a “crucial role to play in the workforce as digital natives,” preparing and nurturing technological skills that will soon navigate industry-wide innovation. Kori views the recent growth in technology-based subject enrolments as a promising sign for diversity in the future workforce.

She specified, “It’s the role of those in education, as well as industry, to showcase the value of the technology sector to everyone going through the education system, and this is especially true for women, who have so much to offer.” In order to fully leverage women’s potential, Kori advocates for the importance of fostering a progressive, welcoming environment that encourages women to carve out a place for themselves within the industry.

From Kori’s perspective, as technology evolves at an exponential pace, "a diverse workforce is essential," with businesses needing to adapt to embrace a wide array of skills and experiences, which could spur innovation. “It's important that industry and education put the framework in place now to inspire the next generation of female technology leaders,” said Kori.

In terms of the broader growth trend in UK, there has been a seven per cent increase in total applications from youngsters aged 18, achieving a total of 99,710 applications. Simultaneously, other STEM subjects like maths, engineering, and physical sciences have experienced application increases of 11 per cent, 10 per cent, and 8 per cent, respectively.

Moreover, UK-based universities offering computer science degrees continue to appeal to international students. Although, it should be noted that the proportion of applications originating from outside the UK has slightly decreased to 21 per cent from the 23 per cent reported in the previous academic year.

For UK applicants aged 18, computing has consolidated its position as the seventh most popular subject choice overall, and the fifth most preferred among all UK applicants. This news cements the sixth consecutive year of growth in computing applications from 18-year-olds, culminating in a 70 per cent growth in applications since 2019, and a more impactful 113 per cent increase among women.