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Careers in Science Q1 2022

Opportunities to study STEM at any stage of life

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Ben Jordan

Head of Policy, UCAS

Studying for a STEM degree can be a springboard to a great career – no matter if you are just about to leave school or looking at a new vocation.

Over a quarter of a million students are accepted onto full-time undergraduate STEM courses in the UK each year. Nearly 45,000 people started a STEM apprenticeship in England last year too.

Patterns found in STEM undergraduate courses

Analysis of UCAS’ recently published 2021 end of cycle data for undergraduate courses shows some interesting patterns on the different ages that people are embarking on science, technology, engineering and maths programmes.

Students aged 25-34 were most likely to be placed onto STEM courses, with 52% of those with a confirmed place in the age group accepted onto a programme (including those subjects allied to medicine).

There are many options in STEM fields at university or as an apprenticeship.

By digging deeper into individual subjects, some fascinating patterns come to light. ‘Traditional’ STEM subjects (the likes of physical, biological, and mathematical sciences, engineering and technology, computing) are more commonly taken up by those aged 20 and under. In fact, the average age of students placed onto mathematical science courses is 18 and a half, the lowest of all the subject areas – STEM or not.

This compares to an average age of 24 for subjects allied to medicine, where nursing has always been an attractive option for mature students. Veterinary medicine, agriculture and animal science, software engineering, business computing and dentistry also all have above average proportions of mature students.

A career in STEM is available to all

The important takeaway from these numbers is that regardless of how old you are, what stage of your career you’re at or if you’re looking for a new challenge, there are many options in STEM fields at university or as an apprenticeship. With the lifelong loan entitlement on the horizon, many more students will be able to access these opportunities.

We can help to get you where you want to go, with information personalised and tailored to your route and situation – create an account in the UCAS Hub and discover your next step in STEM.

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