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Almost 13,000 studying renewable energy as Scotland upskills for climate emergency, new stats show

Posted on 27/09/2019 by Nick Sharpe

Almost 13,000 students are studying courses related to renewable energy at Scotland's universities and colleges, the first survey of its kind has revealed.

More than a third (36%) of the 12,885 students are female, new research by industry body Scottish Renewables has shown.

Thirty one institutions, from Dumfriesshire to the Highlands, responded to a Freedom of Information request for the data.

The students are studying an “enormous range of courses”, from Energy Finance and Policy (University of Edinburgh) and Countryside Management (Scotland’s Rural College) to Tourism Sustainability and Climate Change (University of Glasgow) and Engineering Systems (Dundee and Angus College).

Scottish Renewables Chief Executive Claire Mack told how the figures show that "the shift to low-carbon energy is providing opportunities across Scotland".

She continued: "We already know that the Scottish renewable sector supports an estimated 17,700 jobs, so it's exciting to see the scale of the workforce of the future, and the enormous range of courses being studied which relate in some way to Scotland’s renewable energy future.

"These figures show clearly that the shift to low-carbon energy is providing opportunities across Scotland, with education providers and students seeing value in a career which promises so much.

“With a net zero target in place and stretching targets on cutting carbon emissions from electricity, heat and transport, it’s heartening to see that Scotland is upskilling its young people as we move towards the smart, low-carbon energy system which is needed to tackle climate change.”

The figures are released as part of the Scottish Renewable Energy Festival, which runs from September 16 to October 1 and is being organised by industry body Scottish Renewables to reflect on Scotland’s renewables achievements to date, and on the sector’s future ambitions and opportunities.

Scotland’s Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “People in Scotland are highly engaged with environmental issues and it is fantastic that so many are taking this a step further by studying for careers related to low-carbon and renewable energy – helping to prepare Scotland to play an active role in tackling the global climate emergency. 

“We are encouraging people from all backgrounds to train for roles in renewable sectors and are also supporting more women to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

“We are committed to ensuring a just transition to a growing net-zero economy which is both equitable and inclusive.”




  • A Freedom of Information request was submitted to 32 further and higher education institutions in Scotland, asking: “The number of students currently pursuing courses or modules which relate to renewable energy, broken down by gender”. Results were collected between May and August 2019.
  • A breakdown of responses is available here. Institutions which did not respond (one) or responded zero are not included.

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Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications and Strategy