“Slow progress” as UK 18-year-olds make record number of computing course applications 

WISE CEO Kay Hussain welcomes the new UCAS data on record computing applications, but says we are “nowhere near” where we need to be with gender balance in STEM. 

Record numbers of choices have been made by UK 18-year-old applicants to computing, with a slight increase in female applicants, according to UCAS data released this week. 

The latest deadline data from June 30, UCAS’ final date to apply shows there have been 94,870 applications to computing – up from 86,630 last year (and 71,150 in 2021).

While computing as a whole remains a male-dominated field, with only 18% of all UK 18-year-olds applications made by females – although this is higher than the 17% in 2022 and 16% in 2021.

Increasingly inspired towards computing

Clare Marchant, chief executive of UCAS, said: “These new figures suggest students are becoming increasingly inspired to study computing thanks to the rise of digital and AI.

“We saw unprecedented demand for undergraduate courses during the pandemic as student ambition was high, and we expected a post-pandemic rebalance in the number of applicants. 

“Today’s numbers show the second highest number of UK 18-year-olds have applied this year, testament to the demand for UK higher education this year and the confidence of students in progressing.”

True change “must begin in education”

The data was noted by WISE CEO Kay Hussain, who says that the education system is where the seeds of change are planted. 

She commented: “We absolutely must take note of this increase and acknowledge that progress is being made. 

“But we must also realise that we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of gender balance in computing. Despite this slight rise in female applicants, it is still a male-dominated field, and there is work to be done across the pipeline.

“That said, the seeds of change are planted first in the education system, so this is a reassuring place to see a rise in computing applicants. 

“Improvements made in the classroom are likely to spill into workforce figures later on, bringing us closer to our goal of more gender-balanced STEM sectors.”

“At WISE we continue in our efforts to bring women-centred equity, diversity and inclusion solutions to science, technology, engineering and maths, and we hope to see more headlines like this in the future”.

Inspiring the next generation of STEM women 

WISE works with numerous leading UK organisations on their gender equity, diversity and inclusion efforts. But there is also a huge focus on the education system, and inspiring the next generation of STEM women.

My Skills My Life is a tried and tested outreach resource to inspire girls aged 11-19 to consider a career in STEM. It uses role models and personality traits to help girls identify with their STEM-identity. 

The resource can be used flexibly and tailored to your needs by using the paper resource, online tool, inviting role models or using our role model profiles.

Find out more about My Skills My Life