Applications for vocational university courses like engineering have risen by more than a quarter in five years

Engineering course applications on the rise

Applications to practical university courses like engineering have risen by more than a quarter in the last five years.

Demand for vocational-based degrees has far outstripped interest in arts and humanities courses such as English and history, according a study by HSBC, while a separate survey carried out by the bank found that parents rank vocational courses and the sciences most highly for graduate employment prospects.

The findings show that according to Ucas figures, applications to vocational-based degree courses, which includes subjects like engineering, nursing and medicine, rose by 26 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

At the same time, applications for non-vocational subjects rose by just 6 per cent, HSBC said.

Individual application rates show that the numbers applying for engineering between 2007 and 2012 rose by 17 per cent, medicine was up 12 per cent and chemistry increased by 13 per cent.

HSBC's poll of around 1,000 parents found that as a result of the move to triple tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000, which was brought in last year, one in 10 (10.3 per cent) of parents say they have advised their children to choose a more vocational course such as engineering, medicine or law, to help them stand a better chance of gaining work when they graduate.

And a further 14.5 per cent said they had suggested their son or daughter consider alternative education such as professional qualifications.

Asked to say which degree courses offer the best job prospects, from a given list of subjects, just over half (54 per cent) chose engineering, around three fifths (59.6 per cent) picked medicine and 29.2 per cent said management or business studies. These were the top three answers.

Anne-Marie Koukourava, head of wealth for HSBC in the UK, said: "The combination of challenging employment prospects for young people with the introduction of higher education fees appears to have been the catalyst for a swing towards vocational university courses, which are seen as a safer investment in terms of graduate job opportunities.

"HSBC's recent Saving for Students study found nine in 10 parents intend to contribute to some extent to their children's higher education costs. So it is unsurprising that parents' recommendations are leaning towards courses which they believe have the best long-term return on investment in the form of graduate roles."

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