By Aoife Geary
CAO figures show applications to level 8 science courses are only up by two applicants from 2015, despite the sector being tipped for significant job growth.
The news comes after the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) launched a new campaign to improve public engagement with science and technology. #ScienceRising is an international initiative which aims to promote Ireland’s scientific heritage and highlight its importance to the economy.
Rebecca Wilson of Science Foundation Ireland said CAO figures don’t always accurately reflect interest in science.
“It’s often the case that people may be interested in areas of science but think that it would be too complicated for them to understand,” she said.
Last year, SFI conducted research into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects. It found that 70 per cent of people believed that STEM is too specialised an area for them to understand, even though the majority of people said they were interested in it.
— IrishResearchCouncil (@IrishResearch) March 21, 2016
“That’s what #ScienceRising is about, targeting people who think that STEM is too complex, helping them understand and increasing the number of people engaging and participating in science innovation,” Ms. Wilson said.
The research also stated that over 80 per cent of people recognised the need for graduates in the areas of science and technology to maintain Ireland’s economic prosperity.
— Physics Busking (@PhysicsBusking) March 20, 2016
Ireland is among the world leaders in immunology, nanotechnology and agricultural sciences with international collaborations in over 50 countries, according to the SFI.
The campaign will run right up to science week in November. Each month will focus on different areas of innovation, April will be tech month.
Niamh Lyons, the interim director of communications with SFI, said: “Ireland is known for literary and music greats. We want people to be as proud of their scientific heritage as they are about their literary past.”