Higher entrants in physics 2010-2017

What does this data show?

In 2017, entrants for Higher physics are 8955. This represents the lowest number of entrants since 2010, and a drop of 1.9% on 2016 levels.

Unlike in 2016, comparable subjects have all remained fairly stable, but still below 2015 levels. Chemistry and biology rose by 0.6% and 0.7% respectively, while maths fell by less than 0.1%. Across all subjects, the total number of entrants dropped by 1.5% from 2016.

However, in 2016 there had been a considerable drop in entries compared with 2015, so the number of students studying these subjects to Higher level is still below the level prior to the replacement of Standard Grades with National 4 and National 5 qualifications.

Raw data

 The 8955 physics entrants in 2017 account for 4.6% of all entrants to Highers which is the same proportion of entrants as in 2016.

The chart above illustrates the proportion of Higher physics entrants compared to other subjects: physics has remained roughly in line with both biology and chemistry since 2002. In 2016, physics, biology and chemistry experienced a significant drop in entrants at Higher level, and a fall in the proportion of entrants compared to all Higher entrants. In 2017, the number of entrants was more stable across the three subjects but still below 2015 levels – both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of total entrants.

In 2017, biology entrants made up 3.9% of all entrants and chemistry entrants 5.2%. Mathematics has had a consistently higher proportion of entrants, from a high of 12.9% of all entrants in 2001 to a low of 9.5% in 2016 which rose slightly to 9.7% in 2017. The average proportion of entrants in Higher physics between 2001 and 2017 is 5.3%, compared to 5.2% in biology, 5.7% in chemistry and 11.4% in maths.

Raw data