The HSC doesn’t define students, but as one of their first stepping stones to achieving their career goals, it can mean a helluva lot.
The NSW Education Standards Authority has released the most popular 2021 HSC subjects enrolled by over 76,000 Australian students. Here are the top 15 subjects.
Number one comes as no surprise, seeing it’s the only compulsory subject: English (91%).
Many argue that Mathematics should also be compulsory, as our future jobs depend on it. But more than three-quarters (78%) of students are getting the message and choosing a maths subject anyway.
That number is set to rise as NSW has plans to ‘compulsorise’ it, and we can hear the cries from I’m-not-a-math-person people. But it’s necessary to succeed in managing home budgets and STEM jobs, said Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
A significant portion is science subjects. 42% of students have enrolled in either Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Environmental Science, Investigating Science or Science Extension.
Biology, by far, gets the biggest chunk of that with over 19,000 enrolments. A 10-year analysis of HSC enrolments published by the Sydney Morning Herald in October 2020 found that Biology, PDHPE and Business Studies have soared in the last decade. Fantastic. We need more infectious disease specialists.
Where we really see a big skew between males and females is Biology and Physics. 12,089 females (64%) enrolled in Biology compared to only 6,939 males (36%), which is nearly twice as much.
Meanwhile, only 1743 females (22%) enrolled in Physics compared to 6298 males (78%), meaning males are three times more interested in the subject than females.
Interestingly, of the total science cohort, 21,517 are females and 21,672 are males, which is almost a 50/50 split. The world needs more women in science, so why aren’t more women ending up in these careers?
Let’s look at what’s not on this list. Besides Industrial Technology at #15, other ‘Technologies’ subjects that didn’t make the cut include Agriculture, Design & Technology, Engineering Studies, Food Technology, Information Processes and Technology, Software Design and Development and Textile and Design, which are some of the ‘real-est world’ teachings of the bunch.
Here is the complete list.
- English (69,446 students)
- Mathematics (59,310 students)
- Biology (19,178 students)
- Business Studies (18,137 students)
- Personal Development, Health & Physical Education (17,894 students)
- Studies of Religion (14,770 students)
- Modern History (11,284 students)
- Legal Studies (10,974 students)
- Chemistry (10,038 students)
- Community & Family Studies (9415 students)
- Visual Arts (9,028 students)
- Physics (8,063 students)
- Hospitality (7,274 students)
- Ancient History (6,686 students)
- Industrial Technology (5,992 students)