LONDON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Encouraged by some of the highest starting salaries available in any industry, record numbers of students are enrolling in petroleum engineering courses at U.S. universities.
It is part of a broader renaissance in engineering education, which should eventually ease severe skill shortages in the oil and gas sector.
But it will be the end of the decade before these new graduates are the experienced professionals needed to lead teams and make a real difference to exploration, output and refining.
In 2010, 1,295 graduate students enrolled in petroleum engineering courses at U.S. universities, according to the U.S. Department of Education's "Digest of Education Statistics".
Enrolment had risen 60 percent in the previous four years and was virtually double the level at the start of the decade, when just 627 students signed up to study engineering courses geared to the oil and gas industry.
Only enrolment in biomedical engineering has grown faster over the last decade.
Enrolments have almost certainly risen further in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but the exact numbers will only be available in future versions of the Digest.
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