No female A-level computing students by 2014

Sharp fall in A-level computing student numbers could result in no female students in as little as five years' time

Barry Collins
24 Aug 2009

There will be no female A-level computing students by 2014 if the subject continues its current slide in popularity.

Only 454 girls took the computing A-level exam in the whole of the UK this year, according to figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Female student numbers have fallen by more than 50% over the past five years, with 816 female students sitting the exam in 2005. If the slide continues at its current rate, there will be no female computing students in only five years' time.

A-level student numbers

The drop in female candidates reflects an overall slide in interest in A-level computing. Male candidate numbers have fallen from 6,426 in 2005 to 4,256 this year.

The numbers will provide further cause for concern for both universities and employers, both of which have bemoaned a slowing interest in computing subjects over the past few years.

Microsoft warned of an ever-widening IT skills gap in the summer of 2007, and urged the Government to reintroduce computing at GCSE level to encourage more pupils to persevere with the subject through higher and further education.

University tutors have told PC Pro that many computing and ICT A-level students are arriving ill-prepared for computing degree courses, leading them to recruit students who have taken subjects such as mathematics or physics instead.

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