STEM grows in Ger­many

Sub­ject choices re­flect a coun­try’s eco­nomic bal­ance, fig­ures sug­gest

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Si­mon.baker@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

Ger­many re­mains way ahead of other de­vel­oped na­tions in terms of the share of new stu­dents who choose to study science, en­gi­neer­ing, tech­nol­ogy and maths sub­jects, the lat­est data show.

Ac­cord­ing to the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment’s new edi­tion of Ed­u­ca­tion at a Glance, 40 per cent of new higher ed­u­ca­tion en­trants in the coun­try chose a STEM field in 2015, al­most seven per­cent­age points higher than Es­to­nia, the next high­est OECD coun­try for which data were avail­able.

How­ever, the de­tailed fig­ures, which for the first time have been bro­ken down by broad STEM fields in the OECD’s re­port, show that Ger­many leads other coun­tries only in sub­jects re­lated to en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­struc­tion.

In nat­u­ral sciences, maths and sta­tis­tics, the UK is the coun­try that sees the high­est share of new higher ed­u­ca­tion en­trants study­ing in such fields, while for in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, Es­to­nia and Fin­land come at the top of the list.

An­dreas Sch­le­icher, the OECD’s di­rec­tor for ed­u­ca­tion and skills, said that one of the in­ter­est­ing ques­tions that emerged from the data was whether at­tempts by gov­ern­ments to try to boost industry and man­u­fac­tur­ing – as in the UK – ac­tu­ally affected the choices young peo­ple made.

“On one hand, you have the UK talk­ing about strength­en­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing and industry and that is not re­flected in the choices that young peo­ple make. It is still very much geared to­wards aca­demic dis­ci­plines,” he said.

He added that it showed how dif­fi­cult it was to con­vince stu­dents to fol­low fields where gov­ern­ments wanted in­creased skills and ca­pac­ity in the fu­ture, when choices were be­ing de­ter­mined by the jobs that were avail­able at present.

“How do you help stu­dents make mean­ing­ful choices: do you look at the present, which is easy, or do you some­how in­cen­tivise change?” Mr Sch­le­icher said.

The OECD data also show the huge gen­der gulf in higher ed­u­ca­tion par­tic­i­pa­tion in STEM sub­jects. On av­er­age across the OECD, just 30 per cent of new en­trants who stud­ied STEM sub­jects in 2015 were women. The UK had the joint high­est fig­ure in the OECD for the share of fe­male new en­trants in STEM at 37 per cent, along­side New Zealand and Ice­land. The low­est was in Bel­gium (22 per cent), although this fig­ure ex­cluded new en­trants at doc­tor­ate level.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.