In 2016, the Telegraph reported that the UK now faces the problem of human resources lacking skills and knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM). It estimated that 43% of job vacancies in STEM have yet to be filled, and it also cited the fact that only a tiny percentage of students push through with STEM-related courses in university.
With that in mind, this article takes a look at some strategies used at universities to make STEM more appealing to the youth of today.
1. Increasing the use of technology in the classroom
In a previous article here on Kortext, we talked about how many universities are now using digital learning tools to make lessons more interactive. By making them active participants instead of passive listeners, students are now collaborators in the learning process.
2. Introducing special programmes
Some schools have developed training programmes wherein young women were taught and mentored in computer science to encourage them to get them interested in it. After eight weeks of training, the students were asked if they were interested in pursuing a STEM course, and all the participants said they were. Considering that there is still only a limited number of women entering STEM professions, this strategy indicated that it is possible to convince women to change their minds by giving them exposure in the field by way of hands-on training. Giving them a taste of what they can experience should they choose a career in STEM will also help dispel the idea that these courses are only reserved for the smartest students in class.
3. Introducing mentorship programmes
A thought piece on The Tech recommended developing a mentorship programme, in which alumni who are pursuing STEM courses or careers can serve as mentors to high school students to encourage them to pursue a similar career path. At the very least, a mentorship programme such as this can encourage them to explore the different options available to them after graduating from high school.
4. Making STEM education more accessible to students
One reason why there is a low enrolment of students in STEM courses is because of the high expenses associated with studying these subjects. However, various companies and organisations are taking the initiative to increase students' access to education. Take the case of Kortext partner Openstax, who provide university level open access educational materials, such as books and journals, at little or no cost.
5. Offering incentives
Many schools and private organisations are now providing incentives for students to encourage their interest in STEM. For instance, some offer cash grants to university students so they can come up with their own field-related innovations. According to the WISE Campaign, there are a variety of scholarships and programs specifically tailored for women to encourage them to pursue courses and careers in STEM. One example is the Royal Academy of Engineering, which has the Diversity and Inclusion Programme (D&IP) to nurture women and members of minority groups as they pursue an engineering course. Such initiatives can motivate students to pursue their passion, and propel them to be creative in applying their knowledge in the field.
Written by Jen4School