Thursday 14 August 2008

Time to celebrate as A level Science take up improving

The annual A-level day is a time of joy for many of the candidates, but a moment for inevitable disillusion among media commentators. Yet whatever the reasons for the rise in A level passes - and, frankly, the idea that students are entered for A levels who are incapable of getting at least an E in the subject has always seemed absurd to me - or in A grades, where there may be more reasonable questions about grade inflation, there is one heartening and incontrovertible fact that emerges: science is on the rise again.

We regularly hear the likes of Richard Sykes, the Imperial vice-chancellor who nearly destroyed the chances of variable fees with his hyperbolic expectations in 2002, bemoaning the apparent constant decline of chemistry and physics. Yet, today's figures show that entries in both subjects are up significantly on last year, and this is the second year this has happened; chemistry has been strengthening for several years. Maths is also significantly up. Add to that big improvements in the number of university science and engineering undergraduates, and you have real evidence that the decline of science is being reversed. Given the considerable effort to improve take-up in the so-called STEM subjects, this must surely be a matter for celebration.

I'm sure this heartening news will dominate the media coverage over the coming days, won't it?

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