In the decade leading up to 2005, about 30 of the U.K.’s 70 chemistry departments closed in the face of waning undergraduate enrollment in chemistry and a lack of funding to teach the subject. The situation has since turned around dramatically, with about 10 chemistry departments reopening in recent years. As well as recruiting more students, many U.K. university chemistry departments are also now recruiting staff.I would really like to hear about this interesting little section about chemistry students in the UK and their job outlook:
An additional, and rather surprising, factor has encouraged more undergraduates to study chemistry in the U.K.: the economic recession that began in 2008. British students have been seeking out chemistry degrees in recent years because the subject provides relatively good job prospects, say a number of leading academics. This is in contrast to the situation in the U.S. where job prospects for chemistry graduates have been tougher of late.
U.K. chemistry graduates commonly are taking up jobs in the pharmaceutical, fine chemicals, and banking sectors as well as in teaching, according to a 2008 study by the Institute for Employment Research and the Higher Education Careers Services Unit. For 2010 chemistry graduates, six months after graduation about 41% were employed with a further 44% in full-time graduate study or a combination of graduate study and work. According to Lancaster University, which reopened its department in October 2012 after closure in 1999, “students recognize the career value of a chemistry degree.”I'll be honest, I am less than impressed by the IER numbers, especially compared to the US data for 2010 graduates (ACS 2010 ACS Starting Salary Survey (see first table): 33% full-time, 6% part-time, 46% graduate studies). They're a little better, but not by much.
Finally, I found this section on the increase in B.S./B.A. chemistry graduates to be very interesting (if not a little nervous-making):
As a result of outreach programs, HEFCE’s funding, and students going back to school during the recession, the number of chemistry departments across the U.K. has risen by about 10 since 2005 to 52 in 2013. Between the academic years 2004–05 and 2011–12, the total number of U.K. undergraduates studying chemistry rose 41%. For the academic year 2011–12, there were 15,660 full-time students studying chemistry in all years at the undergraduate level, according to the latest statistics available from the U.K. Higher Education Statistics Agency. The number of student undergraduates for other science subjects, including chemical engineering and physics, has also increased since 2005.
A similar pattern occurred in Germany, where student numbers fell beginning in 2004, were then flat for 2007–08, and subsequently picked up again from 2009.
The U.S., too, has seen a recovery in the number of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry. According to the latest data published by the American Chemical Society, the number of chemistry graduates from ACS-approved schools has risen since 2002. That number increased 44% from 2005 to 2011, when there were 15,712 new graduates. The total number of chemical engineering students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. also increased but to a lesser extent than chemistry. The number of ACS-approved chemistry graduate programs at U.S. schools remains somewhere between 600 and 700.I wonder what is driving this increase? It's certainly not wages.
UPDATE: LabMonkey looks at the UK numbers, which show a rise in the total number of UK undergrads as well.