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HEFCE builds on stabilising demand for subjects

£18 million worth of funding has been poured into encouraging young people to undertake Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through a programme launched earlier this week.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has collaborated with the government and other organisations on the initiatives that will expand to 100 schools and FE colleges if successful, reaching 80,000 pupils aged from nine to 21.

Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of HEFCE, who co-launched the initiatives with Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, said: “There are encouraging signs that the recent decline in demand from students wishing to study STEM subjects is stabilising and the numbers applying are picking up”.

“We want to build on this position and substantially increase the numbers of young people who see real value and reward in studying these subjects in terms of their future careers,” he added.

HEFCE plans to increase participation in STEM subjects by working with groups currently under-represented in HE. Other aims are to enhance the curriculum to make the subjects more relevant to today’s students, increase awareness of career options, and improve links between schools and higher education.

“By increasing the pool of entrants from all types of people, especially those from backgrounds under-represented in higher education, we can help secure the future supply of graduates to meet the country’s needs and ensure the sustainability of these subjects over the longer term”, Professor Eastwood explained.

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Mr Rammell noted that the STEM Programme Report, also published this week, “reinforces the commitments from the science and innovation investment framework, and works towards a vision of delivering STEM support in the most effective way to every school, college, learning provider and learner”.

John Holman, the first National STEM Director, added: “Science education has many willing supporters, in both the public and private sectors. I welcome the opportunity that this report offers to work with the many stakeholders in science to co-ordinate their initiatives to improve science teaching, and so strengthen and simplify the support available to teachers”.

Annabel Hardy.

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