Students urged to do what they love as shift to STEM continues

Queen's University, Belfast

Queen’s University, Belfast

WHILE rising university fees and a tougher economic reality may be driving students to consider their subject choices in more depth than ever before, with a shift towards ‘STEM’ subjects, Fermanagh principals have urged young people to follow their hearts and study something that satisfies them. 
With the A-Level results out today, many young people across the county may be faced with a decision in the coming weeks that could dictate the course of their lives for the foreseeable future. 
Two local grammar school principals have urged these young people to study what they’re interested in and good at. 
Mark Henry, principal of St Michael’s Grammar School, said there had clearly been a shift away from arts and humanities based university courses in recent years, partly due to the economic downturn but mostly due to move towards science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, with young people thinking more about their future career prospects. 
He said: “The recession has probably played some part in it, but I think many are moving away from the arts mainly due to the very strong emphasis on STEM subjects. We’re being told that’s where the jobs are.”
Mr Henry added, however: “I would always remind students to choose a subject they have an interest in and are good at, rather than shoehorning them into a subject they are not interested in,” he said. “Your best chance in the long-term is to go into an area you have an interest in.”
Principal of the Enniskillen Royal Grammar School Elizabeth Armstrong, said young people were “very conscious, now more than ever with the cost of university fees, of the need to weigh up carefully their post A-Level choices and to consider the wide range of options available to take them to their career destination.” 
Referring to companies such as Price Waterhouse Cooper, who she said offered attractive post A-Level apprenticeships with professional qualifications, Ms Armstrong also pointed to the foundation degree course at the South West College as “a positive new development” and said students were looking beyond traditional options such as Trinity and UCD to other destinations in the South such as UCC and NUIG. She added we were fortunate to have Queens University and Ulster University as options in the North as “excellent options.”
Overall, Ms Armstrong said: “The key is for each individual student to make a well-informed decision which meets their individual needs and priorities and to above all choose a degree course which will interest and enthuse them. The importance too of developing the so called soft skills such as communication, team work and leading others through participation in activities outside the classroom or lecture room should not be overlooked. 
“As to which degree to choose-beyond the vocational routes, many employers are simply looking for a good graduate with strong personal skills, they will provide the in-house training. A good degree in a discipline which the student enjoys and will work hard at is still a strong employability option”


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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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