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VCE students face an uphill battle to study science at university next year, if recent trends continue.

A Fairfax Media analysis of ATAR results from the past five years shows gaining entry into top undergraduate science degrees is getting harder. ATARs have risen despite an increasing number of places in many courses.

Scientist holding petri dish Laboratory technician - generic pic

Hard to grasp: students hoping to study science must obtain higher ATAR results this year. Photo: Thinkstock Images

The analysis revealed science-related courses have accounted for 15 of the top 20 degrees in which the final cutoff scores had increased most from 2009 to 2013.

It comes as more than 46,000 VCE students receive their ATAR score on Monday; final-round offers information for last year's graduates suggest likely scores needed this year.

The biggest increase was for computer science at Monash University, which required 70 in 2009 but demanded almost 85 this year.

The ATARs for science at Melbourne and Monash universities hit a five-year high, requiring 91.95 and 82 respectively in 2013, while recording some of the biggest increases in student places. Almost 2000 science places were offered at Melbourne in 2013, 689 more than 2009. A further 925 were offered in science at Monash in 2013, 206 more than 2009.

Monash University biological sciences lecturer David Chapple said young people had become increasingly concerned with environmental conservation, food supply and invasive species, which required a "strong scientific understanding".

Education Department figures show the biggest increases in tertiary applications throughout Australia since 2009 have been in science, health and engineering, with the number of applications for science courses surging 40 per cent to 24,183 in 2013.

Applications for health courses jumped 25 per cent and engineering spiked by 12 per cent.

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley said increased demand in health and engineering courses was tied to skills shortages but the spike in science was less easily explained. ''There has not been any evidence from the labour market that there is increased demand for science graduates,'' he said.

The biggest proportional increase in intake has been in exercise science at Victoria University, which almost tripled its intake. Its ATAR cutoff has dropped nearly 20 points. Interest in architecture and management courses has dropped and applications for arts units increased by just 0.4 per cent.