Why study science?
Develop skills – studying science opens the door to a huge range of jobs and careers, not just becoming a scientist.
Higher earnings – students who study a science, technology or engineering subject at university earn more per year than other subjects.
High employability – the UK is facing a shortage of scientific/engineering skilled workers – it’s estimated that the UK needs 20,000 more engineering graduates, and 25,000 more apprentices each year to meet demand.
Motivating/creative careers – studying science gives students the opportunity to develop their creative skills, exploring how the universe works, leading to fulfilling careers.
How can I help my child?
Ask them about what they’re learning in science lessons. You don’t need to have the answers – let them be the expert and teach you instead.
Try out some experiments at home. There are plenty of simple, fun science experiments you can do at home, using everyday objects.
Taking your child to science centres and other attractions can foster their interest in science. See our map for ideas of where to visit in the West Country.
Talk to your child’s school to find out what science-specific resources/support they can provide. Check to see if the school offers options for GCSE Triple Science, or A-level Further Maths, which can give students an advantage when applying for university. You could encourage the school to take part in schemes such as I’m A Scientist Get Me Out of Here and the CREST Awards, which connect students to science and engineering.
Watch or listen to science programmes together at home.
What qualifications does my child need?
The entry requirements for university science courses typically require at least two A-levels that include Maths, Chemistry, Physics or Biology (depending on the specialism). Additionally, A-level Further Maths is highly recommended if you are interested in studying physical sciences, and is looked upon favourably by university admissions tutors.
Going to university isn’t a pre-requisite for becoming a scientist. There are also apprenticeship schemes and on-the-job training that also lead to scientist and technician careers.
What financial support is available?
Tuition and Maintenance Loans
The total cost of university can be expensive. You may be able to apply for financial support and grants (see below) if your total household income is below £25,000 a year.
Students can take out a tuition loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, and a maintenance loan to help cover living costs. The amount of the tuition loan is fixed, and the amount of the maintenance loan depends on your household income.
The repayment rate for both tuition and maintenance loans is 9% of your earnings over £25,000 For example: a graduate earning £30,000 will pay back £37 a month of their student loan. This means it can take a very long time for the loan to be repaid, but if you haven’t paid it off after thirty-years, the remaining amount owed is cancelled.
Students in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can also apply for maintenance grants (money which doesn’t have to repaid).
Scholarships and Bursaries
Many universities also offer bursaries and scholarships (money which doesn’t have to be repaid) to students that meet specific criteria. Bursaries are typically smaller one-off payments to help support costs, whereas scholarships may reduce or waive tuition fee and living costs considerable.
There are a number of scholarship and bursary schemes specifically for students from the West Country.
Links to further resources
The urgency of the skills shortage in the UK, means there are many organisations working to promote studying science, technology, engineering and medicine.
There are plenty of resources online to encourage young people to study science, technology, engineering and medicine subjects.