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Chemical engineering record at UK universities

20 February 2009

UK Universities are set for a record number of chemical engineering applications, after provisional UCAS figures revealed interest is at an all-time high.
Provisional applications are up by almost one-fifth on last year’s final figure, with over 8,500 received so far. That number breaks all previous records and historical trends suggest the number of applications will rise again ahead of new intake in September.

Chemical engineering record at UK universities
Chemical engineering record at UK universities

Applications to study chemical engineering have risen twice as much as the overall UK application increase across all courses.

David Brown, Chief Executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) said the latest figures are good news: “More applications should lead to a higher calibre of student, and consequently an even better standard of chemical and process engineering further down the line.

“Chemical engineers play a key role in many aspects of day-to-day life and will be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the negative effects of climate change. Attracting the brightest and best students into ‘chemeng’ proves that a growing number of students, teachers and parents realise the value of a chemical engineering degree,” said Brown.

These latest figures are further steps on a remarkable turnaround for UK chemical engineering. In 2002, applications to study the subject had dropped to little more than 5,000 with an intake of just 940 students that year. Since then, applications and intake figures have risen steadily with last year’s record intake of 1640 marking a 75% intake rise in just six years. Last year, IChemE’s salary survey revealed that the median salary for a graduate chemical engineer is £26,000/y.

A key reason for the chemical engineering renaissance has been IChemE’s whynotchemeng campaign. Launched in 2002, and designed to support teachers and students learn about the benefits of a career in the chemical and process industries, almost half of the 2008 UK chemeng intake was familiar with the whynotchemeng campaign and 1 in 5 said talking to a ‘real-life’ chemical engineer influenced their decision to study the subject at university. The campaign website, received over 130,000 visits in 2008.

“The whynotchemeng campaign conveys to students the excitement and impact of the subject and is having sustained results,” said Geoffrey Maitland, Acting head of chemical engineering at Imperial College London.
“Young people are increasingly aware of the key role chemical engineering will play in addressing key global issues such as energy, health delivery and water supply …this all augurs well for our ability to meet the increasing demand for well-qualified engineers both in the UK and globally over the next decade,” Maitland added.

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