More young women than ever before will start computing degrees this September, amid the rising profile of AI, according to figures released today. Computing degrees have seen an 11% growth in the numbers of 18 year old UK women due to start at university, compared to last year, according to BCS analysis.

That is a higher percentage increase for young women than for another subject, said BCS, which analysed data from university admissions service, UCAS. The gender gap has closed for the second year running, though remains wide, with men now outnumbering women on degree courses by 3.8 to one, BCS said.

The total number of UK students placed on undergraduate degrees in computing has increased by almost 6% on last year, with nearly 22,700 people due to start courses, BCS added.

Rise in popularity at A level

The total number taking Computing A level have also risen by almost 17% this year, rising from 15,693 to 18,306 according to figures released today by the Joint Qualifications Council (JCQ). This is the second highest rate of growth for any subject and the third largest increase in overall candidates. In England, the number of female candidates for computing A level has grown by 92% since 2019, and males by 62%, according to data from Ofqual also released today.

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In Wales, female entries for A- level Computer Science rose by over 30% year-on-year, comprising almost all of the growth in uptake of computing this year (WJEC data).

In Northern Ireland, over 800 candidates took A levels in Software Systems Development and Digital technology, with almost half of the entrants for the latter being female (CCEA data).

Tech for good

Female students continue to outperform their male counterparts at A level with more female students gaining higher grades. Gillian Arnold, President of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “The record number of students, and growing share of young women, starting computing degrees this year is important news for the future of the UK.

“Teenagers clearly see a computing qualification as the way to influence some of the biggest issues of our age like AI and climate change – which is shown in the rising numbers taking A levels too.

‘We should congratulate them and continue to support them throughout their journey into computing. That strong growth in the numbers and diversity of qualified technologists also needs to accelerate further over the next decade.”