The rise, rise and rise of chemical engineering (Day 54)

UndergraduatesThe organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK – UCAS – published their annual data tables this week. Their top-line data, by the deadline of 30 June 2014, showed a total of 659,030 applications, an increase of four per cent compared to the same point last year.

It’s an encouraging set of statistics following the decline in 2012 of eight per cent caused by the introduction of higher tuition fees in some parts of the UK.

There’s also encouraging signs too that students from overseas wanting to study in the UK is picking up. Applications from European Union residents has increased by five per cent. Applications from outside of the UK has increased by six per cent.

But is the rude health of engineering and, in particular, the inexorable rise of chemical engineering that once again captures some of the biggest headlines.

UK University applications
Table 1 – UK University applications by subject group (2010-2014). Source: UCAS (click to enlarge table)

Engineering is the sixth most popular subject group in the UK and applications have grown by nearly 20 per cent since 2010 – the fifth highest (Table 1).

Looking more closely at the applications for the sciences and engineering, the growth of chemical engineering becomes even more apparent, with growth figures of 24 per cent and 18.6 per cent in the past two years (Table 2).

Growth of main engineering and science university applications (2013 and 2014). Source: UCAS
Table 2 – Growth of main engineering and science university applications (2013 and 2014). Source: UCAS (click to enlarge table)

There is also some encouraging news for the gender balance in the main engineering professions. Overall, the proportion of women applying increased from 13.5 per cent to 15.3 per cent. Chemical engineering continues to attract the highest proportion of women into the engineering professions at just over one in four (26 per cent).

Congratulations to everyone involved in these excellent figures, including members, universities and the IChemE team responsible for whynotchemeng.

We should remember though that it is estimated by the Royal Academy of Engineering that the UK needs over 100,000 new engineers, scientists and technologists each year, up to the end of the decade, to avoid skill shortages.

Let’s keep promoting the engineering professions and the sciences to maintain the momentum we’ve achieved in recent years.

4 thoughts on “The rise, rise and rise of chemical engineering (Day 54)”

  1. It is good to size the rise of chemical engineering as a university discipline. It would be even better if the teaching in universities was carried out by chemical engineers with a good understanding of what is required in the real world. Sadly it is mainly carried out by scientist with little understanding of the real world.


  2. I hv a priority of being a Chemical Engr. Bt unfrtntly i got admissn 2 study Industrial Chemistry


  3. Dear Geoff – your dairy is very inspiring and brings out various perspectives of Chemical engineers. Let me know if you need a day in Process Safety Manager’s day for your blog. I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.


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