Scots in science drive

September 3, 1999

Henry McLeish, Scotland's enterprise and lifelong learning minister, plans to set up a know-ledge economy taskforce, in a drive to increase the number of science students.

His move comes in the wake of the latest statistics on Scottish higher education, which reveal a steady fall in the proportion of graduates taking science degrees. Between 1987-88 and 1997-98, the numbers studying science rose from 44,449 to 66,816. But this compared with a rise in other subjects from 79,238 to 180,840. The proportion of science students has fallen from 36 per cent to per cent over the decade, with other subjects rising from 64 per cent to 73 per cent.

Mr McLeish said: "This issue has been under discussion for a long time, but it is difficult to achieve changes in the culture and on the ground. We need to make science more popular among schoolchildren, get more people interested in taking science at university and expand the base of science graduates."

But Mr McLeish welcomed figures showing the number of graduates and diplomates topping 50,000, saying: "These are encouraging foundations on which to build."

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