Rapid growth in students learning computer science at GCSE and university level

Figures have shown that computer science is becoming a more popular subject among students, with a growing number opting to take the subject at high school and university level.

More than 79,964 students attended the GCSE computing course in 2021 compared to the 78,459 in 2020, according to figures by OKdo.

While this seems like a small increase, it's nearly five times more than in 2014, when only 16,773 students took the course.

This suggests that in the past decade, the industry has done a great job at making a career in computer science sound appealing to students.

Part of the appeal is the fact that there are more than 11,000 jobs across the UK referencing computer science skills and qualifications and an average salary of £53,857.

However, the industry has miles to improve in terms of gender parity as female students remains low – down 2% in 2021 from 2020, Mirror reports.

But what exactly is computer science?

In a nutshell, computer science is the study of algorithmic processes, computational machines and computation itself.

Still confused? Basically, it involves looking at a problem and working out a way a computer might be able to help you solve it.

To analyse the problem, you’ll need to use computational thinking, a skill used by people like programmers, coders and software engineers.

The number of vacancies in this sector is also 91% higher than it was last year, making it much easier for young students to bag their dream job in the world of computer science.

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According to 2021 data, an additional 1,500 students sat the exams at GCSE level than in 2020, suggesting a 2% annual increase.

It’s not just school kids either, the rise is evident amongst university students, with those choosing computer sciences at an undergraduate level rising by two per cent also.

The analysis comes from global technology company, OKdo, who has been reviewing the figures for their Computer Science in the Classroom report.

Julia Adamson, director of education at BCS, the chartered institute for IT, said: “Computing provides great career opportunities to young people. We’ve seen increasing numbers studying it, as well as more teachers developing the subject knowledge and expertise to deliver an inspiring curriculum thanks to the support of the National Centre for Computing Education, launched in 2018.

“Great progress has been made, but more needs to be done, especially to encourage more girls and those from under-represented groups”

Nicki Young, president of OKdo, added: “Our research highlights just how important it is that the number of students studying computer science at GCSE and beyond – and choosing this as a career continues to gain momentum. The tech industry has been reliably growing, and there is high demand for talented people with this specific skill set.

“Great progress has been made, and it is so encouraging to see more students choosing this subject, but there is more work to do to really engage the tech talent of tomorrow. A Data Analyst, a Software Developer, a Web Designer – these should be aspired careers."

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