Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Exam Chiefs Hail 'Brian Cox Effect' as Students Turn to Maths and Sciences

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Exam Chiefs Hail 'Brian Cox Effect' as Students Turn to Maths and Sciences

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Davis Education Correspondent

A "BRIAN COX" effect has led to a huge rise in the number of students taking maths and science A-levels, today's results show.

Maths entries have risen by 40 per cent in the past five years, with 82,995 taking the subject this year. The numbers taking chemistry and physics have risen by almost 20 per cent in five years, while biology has seen a 13 per cent increase in the same period.

Exam chiefs also put the rise down to students choosing subjects that will give them more chance of getting a job.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of exam awarding body AQA, said: "The stonking increase in maths and science over the past five years is the most significant thing we have seen in this set of results." Ziggy Liaquat, managing director of Edexcel, said: "It could be the Brian Cox effect. It could be as simple as that." Physicist Professor Cox, presenter of Wonders of the Universe, said today he believed there had been a "step change" in the public's opinion of science. He said: "I go to schools and I see and hear there are a lot of kids, girls as well as boys, interested in science and engineering.

"These subjects are great things to do -- for the individual it's great because there is a shortage of scientists and engineers, but it's also great for the country, because we need these people to improve our economy."

Mr Liaquat said students decided to study science and maths at the beginning of the financial downturn. He said: "When these students would have made their choices two years ago, businesses were crying out for students and young people to have skills in science, engineering and maths.

"What we are seeing today is the outcome of those choices. Students are making far more informed choices on what's going to give them success in terms of jobs, university and meeting the needs of the economy. That's a really positive message from today."

Meanwhile the numbers taking foreign language A-level have fallen. …

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