More than 18,000 students sat the Higher Level Leaving Certificate mathematics paper this year, which was an increase of 8% on last year.

The take-up of higher level maths has more than doubled since 2011.

10,000 more students now sit the paper than eight years ago.

The increased numbers studying higher level maths has been welcomed by business group Ibec and by Engineers Ireland.

The representative body for engineers also highlighted that the number of students sitting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects has also increased by 5%, to more than 88,000 papers.

Increases were observed in the number of students taking higher level subjects related to engineering and construction, including mathematics (+1316), construction studies (+791), physics (+325) and technology (+255).

Chartered Engineer and Engineers Ireland Registrar, Damien Owens, said, “The ability to understand and work with maths and science subjects is invaluable for future engineers. Knowledge of these subjects is vital to understanding and addressing global challenges, such as climate action and informing public decision-making in our democracy.

“As a small island nation, we are dependent on the quality and quantity of our STEM graduates and it’s very positive to see this increased interest in STEM at 2nd level. In order to build on this interest, it is incumbent now on all of us – teachers, policymakers, parents and industry – to play our part in building further awareness of the exciting world of STEM at both primary and secondary level to meet the needs of society and industry,” Mr Owens said.

Claire McGee, Head of Education and Innovation Policy at Ibec, said it is encouraging to see a further increase in the number of students opting for higher level maths and achieving strong results. “It is also encouraging to see a rise in the number of students taking science subjects. This will help students who wish to pursue science and technology courses at third level, leading to interesting and successful careers across a broad range of industry sectors.”

She said there remains some concern about ordinary level maths results. “Maths skills are necessary for all citizens to participate fully in life, in further study and in work. The quality and approach of teaching may need to be reviewed to support such students.”