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Less than 20% of American students choose STEM majors

Less than 20% of American students choose STEM majors

Graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM for short – are sought after worldwide, but they are often scarce. Many countries have tried to strengthen enrollment in STEM to help important growing industries such as medical technology, digital services, mobility or IT. However, countries have had varying degrees of success in this area.

As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz reports, according to figures collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Tertiary students in Malaysia and Tunisia are among the most likely to graduate in a STEM field, with between 43.5 and almost 40 percent of students there receiving a respective degree, of all countries for which recent data were available. India, with a still high 34 percent of students choosing STEM, is, however, producing the most total graduates in the field due to its population of about 1.4 billion people, the biggest in the world

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UNESCO did not release data for China. In 2016, the World Economic Forum said that China was actually producing 4.7 million STEM graduates per year, which would actually surpass India’s number. However, according to the National Science Foundation, China classifies engineering and science fields quite broadly, resulting in a lack of comparability of data. The US government agency counted 1.6 million Chinese science and engineering graduates in 2014, which would be fewer than Indian graduates.

Other countries with a strong sample of STEM graduates are the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Belarus and South Korea – all producing more than 30 percent of graduates in STEM. In general, countries that have managed to produce a higher proportion of STEM graduates than elsewhere are more likely to be found in the Arab world, Eastern Europe and also East Asia. After Tunisia, the share of STEM graduates also exceeds 29% in Algeria, Mauritania and Morocco, all due to the prevalence of IT engineering in the region. The Arab Gulf, a place that has recently been pushing to innovate its economies, is producing above-average numbers of STEM graduates in some places, namely the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

With the exception of Germany, Western Europe is not a STEM focus, despite this Only 26% of UK graduates come from STEM courses, compared to 25% in France and 23% in Spain. Even fewer graduate in the Americas, with shares of 19.6% and 17.5% in the United States and Brazil, respectively.

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