STEM courses still attractive for school leavers

STEM courses still attractive for school leavers

New university students in Victoria and Queensland are increasingly eager to take up STEM programs despite growing fears over a shortage in the number of workers in the field.

Deakin University recently found that its most popular courses for school leavers this year are mostly STEM-related. Taking the lead as the most sought-after course at Deakin is their internationally-recognised exercise and sport science, followed by nursing.

Other STEM-related courses in the top 10 list were psychological science or criminology, biomedical science, science, and health sciences.

The data was based on the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre’s 2019 December round of offers, which covered more than 5,500 school leavers from Victoria and Queensland.

Professor Iain Martin, Deakin’s vice-chancellor, said the new list reinforces their reputation for innovation in the aforementioned courses.

"As Deakin continues to grow, now with more than 63,000 students across our Geelong, Warrnambool, Burwood and Cloud campuses, we continue to offer courses that are not just popular but ensure students are ready for the jobs of the future,” Professor Martin said.

The University’s new course offerings for this year also revealed that incoming university students are in tune with changing demands in the workforce.

"The list of most popular new courses commencing in 2020 reveals the future of work and how we are responding to industry change,” Professor Martin said.

“Courses in Artificial Intelligence and a double degree in Law and Cyber Security are among Deakin's most popular new courses in 2020.

Some new STEM courses also made their way into the top 10, namely nutrition science and marine science, the latter of which will be offered in Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus.

Deakin, which made 5,533 offers to school leavers in Victoria and Queensland in December, announced it will be making further offers to also cover mature-aged students and applicants from non-school environments until February.

Professor Martin further said that they are looking to make “major contributions” to the community over the next decade, especially in the fields of healthcare, new industries and technologies, sustainable energy and water resources, environmental management, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.”

Adelaide seeing a similar trend

Outside Victoria and Queensland, Adelaide University has also reported an increased interest in new courses that will address the demands of the changing business landscape.

“It is exciting to see the level of interest in our new degree programs, including Information Technology and our suite of Technology (Defence Industries) programs, which will directly contribute to the future skills base of the State,” Professor Pascale Quester, deputy vice-chancellor (academic), said.

The University reported a 5% year-on-year increase in offers to domestic students at 6,389 offers. Offers made through SATAC also posted an 8% increase.

International students posted a faster increase, with applications from this demographic grew by 16% this year.

“At a local level, is it pleasing to see an ongoing increase in demand for study at our University at a time of a declining school leaver student market overall,” Professor Peter Rathjen, the University’s vice-chancellor said.