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Why engineering, technology, or science? The views of first-year tertiary students

Sandie Schagen and Edith Hodgen

NZCER was commissioned by the Institute for Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) to carry out an on-line survey of first-year engineering, technology, and science students. The aim was to find out what had influenced the students’ choice of course and place of study, and to explore their thinking about careers. Responses were received from 1,148 students in 14 universities and polytechnics. Demographic details were obtained in order to identify differences between subgroups.

Choice of course related to students’ interest and ability in the chosen subject, and to its usefulness in terms of a future career. The most important factor in deciding where to study was the course content available, and the reputation of the institution, department/course, and staff members. Suggestions from family members were also important, and more than half of the students wished to stay near home/family.

Only one in five students knew exactly which career they wished to pursue, but most had at least an idea of the area in which they wished to work. The most important consideration was the link to the individual’s interests, followed by the possibility of building a life-long career. It was also important that the career was varied, challenging, and practical, and that it offered a high salary and opportunities for promotion.

Year published: 
Publication type: 
Research report
NZCER for Institute for Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)
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Sandie Schagen