The number of students studying design and technology subjects is on the rise for the first time since 2010, according to data released today by Ofqual.
There were some 9,620 students registered for the design and technology A-Level in 2022 compared to 8,345 in 2021, which is a 15.3% increase. Design is split into two pathways at A-Level: art and design, and design and technology.
Art and design is still the most popular A-Level strand this year with 41,735 students, compared to design and technology’s 9,620 students. Both strands have seen an increase in students studying on their courses.
Collectively, there were 51,355 students studying on both strands, which is a 7.8% increase from last year.
However, it is important to recognise that while the number of students taking art and design subjects has fluctuated over the last decade, there has been a clear decline in the number of students taking design and technology subjects. This is likely to be linked to successive governments prioritising STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), over arts subjects. The ripples of this are still being felt across the education system.
The average number of students studying on the art and design A-level strand over the past five years sits at 39,803, while the average for design and technology during the same period is 9,213.
A drop in top grades
For the first time since 2019, the number of students achieving grade A and above in art, design, and technology A-Level subjects has dropped.
The fall in grades did not come as a shock to most as, before they opened their envelopes this morning, Education Secretary James Cleverly warned students to expect “slightly lower grades” than last year. This trend does not only apply to art, design and technology subjects, but A-Level subjects across the board, and is thought to be linked with the return of exams for the first time since the pandemic.
In art and design subjects, only 38.5% of students attained grade A-A*, compared to last year’s 46.5%. Design and technology subjects saw an even larger drop from 42% in 2021 to 30.4% this summer.
The number of students achieving grades A*-C saw a less drastic drop, with art and design courses seeing a 2.8% decrease and design and technology courses experiencing a very small 0.8% decrease.
Girls see higher numbers and higher grades
One continuing trend is the significantly larger number of girls studying art and design subjects than boys, while there are more boys studying on the design and technology strand.
There were 30,890 girls studying art and design, compared to 10,845 boys. Meanwhile there were 6,795 boys and 2,825 girls studying design and technology, despite the Department for Economy’s effort to get more female students into STEM subjects.
Overall, female students achieved higher grades than male students on both A-Level strands. For girls studying art and design subjects, 49.6% of them achieved grade A-A*, with 37.7% of the boys hitting the top grades.
In the design and technology strand, 53.9% of the female students and 36.8% of the male students achieved grade A-A*.
What does this mean for universities?
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) will release data which details the number of creative subjects’ applicants for universities, as well as the number of placed students, in the next few weeks.
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