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More students choose to study engineering at university

Numbers applying between 2007 and 2012 rose by 17%

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Practical subjects such as engineering and medicine are attracting more students

Applications to practical university courses such as engineering have risen by more than a quarter in the last five years as students attempt to boost their job prospects, research has suggested.

Demand for vocational-based degrees has far outstripped interest in arts and humanities courses such as English and history, according a study of 1000 parents by HSBC.

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% between 2007 and 2012. At the same time, applications for non-vocational subjects rose by just 6%, HSBC said.

The numbers applying for engineering between 2007 and 2012 rose by 17%.

HSBC's poll found that as a result of the move to triple tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 one in 10 mothers and fathers said they had advised their children to choose a more vocational course such as engineering. The parents said they thought it will help them stand a better chance of gaining work when they graduate.

When asked to say which degree courses offer the best job prospects, from a given list of subjects just over half chose engineering.

Two thirds of the parents surveyed said that their advice to their child on education was quite or very influential, the poll found.

The figures come just days before sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland lean their A-level results, and whether they have secured a university place.

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.”

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