Business studies is the first-choice course for undergraduates studying for their first degrees for the second year running, according to figures published this week by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The statistics show that 12.5 per cent of first-degree undergraduates chose business studies for the academic year 2003-04.
Although the figure is 1 per cent lower than in the previous year, more students were taking business studies courses than any other subject.
Biological sciences and social studies shared second place in their appeal to undergraduate students, each with 9.2 per cent.
Jonathan Slack, chief executive of the Association of Business Schools, said: "At a time when deferred fees and incurring debt are at the forefront - and in the minds of students and parents - those who are thinking smart are opting to study business and management to enhance their employability and earnings potential."
The statistics also revealed that the least favourite subjects were mathematical sciences, with only 1.9 per cent opting for it, and agriculture on 0.6 per cent. The lowest ranking subject was veterinary science with 0.3 per cent.
Subjects gaining popularity included historical and philosophical studies, which rose from 4.7 per cent of first-degree students to 5.1 per cent; law, which rose from 4.6 per cent to 4.7 per cent; and subjects allied to medicine, which were up from 8.5 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
On the slide were languages, down from 7.1 per cent to 6.6 per cent; engineering and technology, down from 7.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent; and education, down from 3.6 per cent to 3.5 per cent.