Number of computing A-Level qualifications remains stable, but fears of drop in 2019

16 August 2018

The number of UK students leaving post-16 education with a qualification in a computing-related subject has remained stable, today’s publication of A-Level qualifications shows.

But BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, fears this number could slump dramatically next summer, as the ICT A-Level is discontinued, leaving only the more academic Computer Science option.

A-Level results released today show 15,149 students passed an A-Level in either Computer Science or ICT - down very slightly from 15,161 in 2017.

The number of students passing Computer Science increased from 7,851 in 2017 to 9,772 this year - a rise of 24% - while the number passing ICT fell for a fourth consecutive year, from 7,310 in 2017 to 5,378 this year - a 20% decline.

The number of students attaining an A-Level in Computer Science overtook ICT in 2017. June 2018 was the last sitting of ICT A-Level examinations in England.

Computer Science is the study of the foundational principles and practices of computation and computational thinking, and their application in the design and development of computer systems, and is a subject discipline, on a par with Maths or Physics.

ICT focuses on the creative and productive use and application of technology and computer systems, especially in organisations.

Julia Adamson, Director of Education at BCS, said: “Twelve fewer students left school with an A-Level in a computing-related subject this year compared with last. What we need to see is major growth. We need a minimum of 40,000 students gaining an advanced computing qualification every year.

“To achieve that, we need to improve Computer Science teaching through better professional development, support and resources.

We welcome Government investment in the National Centre for Computing Education, which will invest significantly in computing teacher training, support and resources and is set launch in the Autumn.

“Students who study an advanced computing qualification will benefit from significant payback for themselves, for the economy, and in increased productivity.

“As a society, we need to make sure that our young people are leaving education with the digital skills they need to secure their first job, an apprenticeship, or go on to further study.”

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