TIGA, the network for game developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, has called on the Government to reduce tuition fees for STEM subjects, increase targeted action to increase the number of students studying STEM subjects, and improve careers guidance.
In its response to the Department for Education consultation ‘Review of Post-18 Education and Funding’, TIGA outlined that whilst the overall number of STEM and Computer Science graduates is rising, the UK still faces a digital skills gap with employers struggling to fill 43 per cent of STEM vacancies (see here and here). Increasing the supply of STEM graduates is essential for the future of high technology industries, including the video games industry, which depends on highly skilled workers to create ground-breaking new games and compete on a global level.
TIGA emphasised the following options to tackle the digital skills shortage:
- Pilot a scheme in which tuition fees are reduced in certain STEM and Computer Science subjects and if successful expanding this to include additional STEM courses in order to encourage more students to study them;
- Increase the number of students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds studying STEM or Computer Science through the provision of additional bursaries;
- Provide greater support to part-time students undertaking STEM or Computer Science Open University (OU) courses, as the number of admissions has fallen by 28 per cent since 2011-12;
- Strengthen measures already in place aimed at increasing the number of students studying STEM and Computer Science, for example as part of the STEM Ambassadors programme, match STEM professionals with schools and groups in the area they grew up in;
- Closely monitor the effectiveness of such schemes and look to reinforce those with the highest impact; and
- Improve careers guidance meaning there is a greater awareness of educational routes that students need to take to enter particular careers.
TIGA also focused on UK higher education from a global perspective, stating that it would support the decision to remove international students from the Government’s migration targets in order to help increase the UK’s significant share in the market for international students.
Moreover, TIGA recommended that the Government should ensure that spending on higher education is comparable to that of other leading OECD countries, such as the USA, Canada and South Korea, to ensure the quality of UK higher education remains world class.
Finally, TIGA recommended that the UK should continue to engage in EU programmes, such as Horizon 2020, which has provided €4.2 billion for research and innovation, post-Brexit.
Dr Richard Wilson OBE, Chief Executive Officer of TIGA, said:
“The UK’s higher education system is first class, globally recognized and has provided employers with highly skilled workers for generations. However, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.
“Increasing the supply of STEM graduates is essential for the future of our high technology industries, including the video games industry. We welcome sensible measures that will encourage more people to study subjects relevant to our high technology sectors, like video games.
“TIGA will continue to work with the Government and policy makers on education policy to ensure our members have a pipeline of talented individuals with the right skills.”