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Tens of thousands of Scottish students favouring renewables studies

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There are almost 22,000 students in Scotland currently studying renewable energy, marking an increase of 70 per cent from 2019, fresh figures have revealed.

Thirty-three Scottish colleges and universities responded to a Freedom of Information request submitted as part of research conducted by trade body Scottish Renewables to provide figures from a wide range of renewables-related courses, including engineering, mathematics, and finance courses which now include an element on renewables.

The same study conducted four years ago in 2019 found 12,885 students were studying courses related to renewable energy, compared with 21,919 today.

The results showed 28 per cent of students in the most recent results were female, while 72 per cent were male.

Claire Mick, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, celebrated the findings of the research and said they show the impact that renewable energy is already having on Scotland’s economy, as well as the attractiveness of green jobs to young people.

“Renewables like wind, solar and hydropower already provide the vast majority of Scotland’s electricity and contribute more than £5.6 billion to our economy every year,” she said.

“This is an industry which has huge plans for growth and these figures, particularly contrasted with those from the same survey in 2019, show that renewable energy is quite rightly being seen as a career of the future for those in further and higher education.”

The Freedom of Information request found that the highest number of students taking courses related to renewable energy are studying engineering, with 5,373 students currently studying in Scotland. This was followed by 1,202 students studying business, and a further 742 studying management.

The universities and colleges included in the study said courses including biotechnology, design, and physics also include components relating to renewable energy.

Jenifer Johnston, head of communications and public affairs at Colleges Scotland, welcomed the increase in the number of students studying renewables, adding that the growth in clean energy was a “hugely exciting” part of Scotland’s economy.

“Building a career in renewables starts at college,” she added. “Every college in Scotland is delivering courses where learners gain the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.”

Former student Ellice Mentiplay studied environmental science at Abertay University and then completed a Masters in Energy, Society, and Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh last year. She is now a commercial graduate with EDF Renewables in Edinburgh.

“While studying at university I took a really keen interest in the subjects related to renewable energy and these have given me the knowledge and understanding needed to pursue a career in this thriving industry,” she said.

“I’m really excited to see Scotland at the forefront of this industry, particularly with onshore and offshore wind, I’m really proud to be able to support EDF Renewables and the renewable energy industry as we deliver Scotland’s net-zero ambitions.”  

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