The number of Scotland-domiciled applicants to study computing degrees at university has risen by nine per cent in the last year, according to new figures.

According to the British Computer Society (BCS), the chartered institute for IT, there were 480 additional applicants for 2024 tech courses compared to the previous year.

There was a rise of 300 male applications and 180 who did not specify a gender, with female applications remaining static.

Overall there were 5,910 applications from people in Scotland to study at UK universities this year, compared to 5,430 in 2023. The figures for female applicants were 1,350 in both 2023 and 2024, and 4,380 this year for males compared to 4,080 last year (see table below).

However, the UK figures show that there was a rise of 10 per cent for female applications to study computing degrees, indicating a lag in Scotland.

The UK figures show that there were 18,880 applications from 18-year-old women to study computing at university this year, up from 17,140 in 2023.

BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT analysed January deadline application data (released 15 February) from university admissions service, UCAS. 

While male applicants still outnumber females in computer science by 4.1 to 1 this year, the gap has closed slightly from 4.4 to 1 at the same stage in the application cycle in 2023, BCS found. 

Applications to study computing from all UK young people (aged 18) rose by 7% (to a total of 99,710). This mirrored strong growth in STEM subjects, with maths 11% up, Engineering 10% up, and physical sciences 8% up. 

Gillian Arnold, President of BCS, said: “More and more young women understand that taking a computing degree can help them change the world and that is shown by these UCAS application figures. 

“There’s still a long way to go until we have the truly diverse tech profession we need to ensure emerging technology like AI benefits everyone. That also includes creating a more inclusive culture across the tech profession itself.

“Diversity is more than just a concept when it comes to teams creating AI – reducing bias is a critical factor in all teams if we are to get more innovation in areas like medical diagnosis.

“People from every background need to be encouraged by the demand for computing and know that the tech profession needs them.”

Computing degrees at UK universities continue to be attractive to students outside the UK. Over one-fifth of applications (21%) came from non-UK students, a slight decrease from 2023/24 (23%). 

Computing is now the 7th most popular subject for UK 18-year-old applicants (and 5th for all UK applicants). This is the sixth consecutive year of growth for Computing applications from 18-year-olds with this year’s figure being 70% higher than in 2019 (and 113% higher for women).

Scotland computing degree applications. Source: UCAS