Antonia Giovanazzi, Principal of The National Mathematics and Science College on why international students should travel overseas to study a STEM degree in the UK

STEM was first coined in the United States as an umbrella term for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, areas of knowledge that are in great demand in employment and in Higher Education.

The UK, like many other countries, is facing a crippling shortage of STEM graduates resulting in a vicious spiral: a lack of suitably-qualified Science teachers coming through the system drives down the number of students applying to university to read STEM subjects.

According to a recent publication from the UK Institute of Physics with the Centre for Education & Industry (CEI) at the University of Warwick, only 3.7% of Physics graduates in the UK are on teacher training courses. 

As a result of a change in government policy, there is now a two-year post study visa in the UK and this will provide a boost in attracting more international STEM talent. From the newly qualified graduate’s perspective, there is no shortage of work. Some of the UK’s biggest R&D companies talk of the ‘war for talent’ in areas such as AI. The UK Government’s goal is to invest 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027.

The upside of this shortage is that STEM graduates are afforded unfettered opportunities to enter the most financially lucrative, innovative and creative occupations after university. A recent report from the UK Institute of Fiscal Studies identified Mathematics, Medicine and Economics as the top three degrees with highest earnings in the ten years post-graduation.

Where is the best place to study a STEM degree?

The UK has a proud and long history in science and engineering excellence. After all, the first steam engine was invented here, as was the first vaccine and, more recently, the new wonder material graphene. 

The UK has always punched above its weight on the international scientific stage. Our research base is responsible for 16% of the world’s most influential academic papers and more Nobel Prizes than any other country bar America. 15% of all current central bank governors studied in the UK.

The new UK government policy means that students graduating with a degree from one of our prestigious universities have the security of knowing that they can – and are welcome to – work here for up to two years after graduation. This is a good grounding which hopefully enables a base of work experience or further study that can be the launch-pad for a highly successful career.

As Head of one of the country’s leading STEM schools, I am often asked to advise on whether IB or A-levels offer better preparation for a STEM degree. In my opinion, the leading universities are attracted by the focus and academic rigour of the likes of A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics; this route will not suit all. What is imperative, however, is finding the right school that will inspire your child to not only ask ‘Why’, but also ask ‘Why Not?’.

If you enjoyed this article, why not read about the card game encouraging interest in STEM?