Mathematics Enrolments Declining
The Sunday Age, 10 June 2012
The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) has called for universities to reintroduce advanced mathematics subjects as prerequisites for engineering and science degrees, amid concerns that the number of students taking the hardest mathematics subjects at school was declining.
However, Melbourne universities responded by arguing that the quality of mathematics teaching had declined, which had led to students scoring poorly in advanced mathematics courses. As a consequence, universities would have been obliged to lower the entry scores for science and engineering courses.
Instead, the universities indicated that they were being forced to run ‘bridging courses’ for many first-year science and engineering students, to ensure that they were able to meet the requirements of the tertiary courses.
However, the AMSI argued that the removal of university prerequisites, as well as poor teaching, had been a direct cause of the decline in enrolments in advanced mathematics courses. The Dean of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Professor Iven Mareels, claimed that poor quality mathematics education started in primary schools.
The President of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, Mr Frank Sal, argued that teacher salaries were the main cause of the problem, as teaching was not an attractive profession for mathematics and science graduates.
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