Why study STEM at university?

Studying STEM doesn't necessarily mean you'll rock a white coat, but it's still pretty cool when you do. Image: Shutterstock

Six reasons why you should study tertiary science, tech, engineering or maths.

With university preference closing dates looming for most Year 12 students in Australia, chances are you’re hitting up everyone you vaguely know RN for insight into what the heck you should study next year. We’ve popped together list of research-backed reasons why something STEM-related should be at the top of your list.

1. You’ll have no problem scoring a job.

With 75% of Australia’s most in-demand occupations requiring science, tech, engineering and maths skills and STEM jobs growing 1.5 times faster than any other industry, getting clued up in STEM is one seriously smart career move.

And if you study it, but branch out elsewhere? Same deal! A survey for the Office of the Chief Scientist of Australia found that even if a job doesn’t directly need STEM skills, more than 82% of employers would value tertiary experience studying STEM in an applicant.

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2. They’re seriously fun – and relevant too!

Between the assignments, extra-curricular comps and STEM-themed clubs, being a STEM student sounds seriously exciting – and legit something you’d use after you graduate. Just ask undergrad Cheena Yadav, who’s studying a Bachelor of Computer Systems engineering at the University of Newcastle.

“As you move through the course, you get to learn the skills that you’re eventually going to use in your career,” says Cheena. “That’s the most interesting part!”

For Cheena one of the highlights of her degree is learning how to create real-world solutions, such as building software for driverless vehicles.

 

3. You can combine a STEM degree with literally any other passion you have.

Into science and sport? Tech and fashion? Or maths and saving the planet? No matter how unlikely the pair, chances are there’s a career that fuses a STEM subject with that thing you’re into. By using the STEM + ‘X’ formula you’ll discover how to connect your hobbies with an unlikely – but  compatible – STEM degree.

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4. You could end up in a seriously exciting job that doesn’t even exist yet.

No-one knows what a job search will look like 20+ years from now, but one popular estimate suggests 65% of school students will end up in yet-to-be-created careers. And the bulk of those? STEM-related! Think cutting-edge roles in Augmented Reality (AR), data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

5. The skills you learn will be transferable – meaning you could apply them to loads of other industries!

Transferable and adaptable T-shaped smarts – time management skills, organisational ability, research capability and social strengths etc – are major pluses to most future-focused employers, and are all part of the practical, relevant skill-set that you’d pick up during a STEM degree.

And with the demand for adaptable skills across a range of areas rapidly increasing, studies show that those who present themselves as agile and transferable – eg a civil engineering major with leadership skills and a passion for sustainability – will open themselves up to a host of opportunities.

6. The government wants you to.

According to our current government, university STEM degrees and research investment are critical to increasing local employment opportunities – a sentiment stressed by Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

“We are encouraging students to tailor their studies to learn the skills that will be in demand in areas of future jobs growth,” he recently told Careers with STEM.

“Projections prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that over the five years to 2024, science and technology was one of four industries projected to provide 62 per cent of total employment growth.”

Still stumped on what to study? Check out more arguments for STEM here and here.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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