2018 press releases

40% of second level students not choosing science or technology as perceived ‘too difficult’

By April 26, 2017No Comments

  • BT reveals research findings as it launches the 2018 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition
  • Study reveals that participation in events like the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has a strong influence on third level degree choices
  • School and peers identified as most important influencers in developing interest in science and technology
  • 98% of third level students surveyed could not identify an Irish scientist or technologist

BT Ireland today launched the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), calling on secondary school students across Ireland to begin their preparation for the 2018 event in January.

To mark the launch of the 2018 exhibition, BT commissioned an independent survey of third-level students to identify levels and origins of interest in science and technology. The research revealed that participation in events like the BTYSTE has a strong influence on the future pursuit of science and technology at third level. However, 40% of students still perceive science and technology subjects as ‘too difficult’.

Last year, the BTYSTE recorded the highest ever number of entries proving that the popularity of the exhibition and engagement in STEM events is growing year on year. However, the research illustrates that there is still work to be done to promote the value of choosing science and technology subjects at secondary school level. Key findings revealed that:

  • 40% say they didn’t take science for their Leaving Cert or consider it for third level as they found the subject too difficult
  • One in three had no interest in science or technology whatsoever

Despite the volume of Irish technology and science entrepreneurs making their mark, only 2% of students surveyed could identify an influential Irish scientist or technologist, with Robert Boyle (Founder of Boyles Law, Chemist and Physicist from Lismore Co. Waterford 1627-1691), emerging as the most influential scientist. This indicates a gap in understanding of the potential careers available to students choosing STEM subjects at second level and serves as a reminder that more emphasis needs to be placed on guiding students to think more carefully about their subject choices, and the many opportunities available to them.

Crucially, the research did indicate a positive link between engagement in STEM subjects and events at second-level and its influence on future choices:

  • 77% of those surveyed who participated in BTYSTE went on to study science and/or technology in third-level. Of those surveyed that didn’t participate in the BTYSTE, less than 10% subsequently went on to study science and/or technology in third level
  • 35% stated their school and peers were the biggest influential factor in determining their interest in science or technology, nearly tripling the respondents who suggested parents/guardians are the most influential (13%).
  • 56% of students currently studying science and/or technology at third level felt their parents and teachers put focus on STEM whilst at secondary school, compared to only 32% of other students

Shay Walsh, BT Ireland’s Managing Director said, “At BT, we’re proud to be entering into our 18th year as organiser and sponsor of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. Today’s research proves that initiatives like BTYSTE play an important role in cultivating an interest in science, maths, engineering and technology at the grassroots, but also highlights the need for schools to encourage their students to choose science or technology subjects at exam level to maintain that interest.

“For students, the future really does start here so I would encourage every student to consider getting involved in the BTYSTE to see for themselves how exciting and vast the world of science and technology can be.”

This year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place from the 10th-13th of January 2018 at the RDS, Dublin. The exhibition offers one of the most coveted awards for participants, with a substantial prize fund and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy, as well as over 140 prizes for individuals, groups and teachers. In addition, the overall winner will represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in 2018.

Today’s launch also includes an interactive digital launch, which will see over 600 students and teachers from around the country participate in a live ‘BTYSTE Top Tips seminar’ at 10am across social media to show schools how easy it is to get involved. For more information, visit, or follow BTYSTE on Facebook and Twitter.


The survey was carried out face-to-face as well as online, with more than 500 third-level students. Qualitative research was also carried out in a focus group with past participants. Full survey analysis available upon request.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Lorna Jennings,
Hanover Communications,
+ 353 863630576 or

Aideen Ginnell,
Hanover Communications
+ 353 873622212 or


The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is Ireland’s premier STEM event for secondary school pupils. Since its origin in 1963, the BTYSTE has grown from a simple science fair to become one the most highly regarded platforms for encouraging young people to use the foundations of science, technology, engineering and maths to inspire new ideas and new ways of thinking about the world we live in. The Exhibition itself is the final stage of the competition, which is open to all second level students from Ireland, both north and south. As well as the 550 shortlisted student projects on display each year, there are a further four exhibition halls filled with cutting edge science and technology based exhibits and entertainment, making it a thrilling event for those who enter and for general visitors alike. The 2018 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place from 10th-13th January in the RDS, Dublin 4. For more information on how to get involved visit

About BT Ireland

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.  BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 20161, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,012m with reported profit before taxation of £2,907m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

The results for the period have been revised to reflect the outcome of the investigation into our Italian business. Detail of which is set out in our third quarter results announcement published on 27 January 2017.  This financial information is unaudited.

For more information, visit

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