With the clock ticking on Australia’s STEM skills, Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb has warned that without university mathematics prerequisites the nation risks failing the test of future prosperity.
The warning was issued as part of featured coverage in the current issue of AMSI’s flagship newsletter, The Update. Professor Chubb was one of five STEM Leaders invited to lend their voice to the issue of university mathematics prerequisites, including Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) President and incoming Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.
“Mathematics prerequisites attached to university courses send signals that influence student choices. Currently, we are failing the test of the future, discouraging students from performing at their level of potential,” says Professor Chubb.
According to AMSI’s 2015 Discipline Profile only 14 per cent of Australian science degrees require students to have intermediate mathematics skills. With Year 12 higher-level mathematics participation continuing to decline, AMSI Director Professor Geoff Prince has been sounding the warning bells about the consequences of retreating from mathematics prerequisites.
“Australia’s capacity to innovate is at risk with demand for mathematical and statistical skills outstripping supply. In Vision for a Maths Nation, AMSI provides a clear strategy to address this issue with reintroduction of mathematics prerequisites a key priority,”says Professor Prince.
While a high priority, AMSI warns that university mathematics prerequisites are only one piece of a complex puzzle that will take time to address.
“Critical action is needed at all stages of the mathematics pipeline, including to retrain out-of-field educators and deliver an innovation driven curriculum. A better sales pitch is also needed to convince young women that mathematics saves lives,” says Professor Prince.
The Update is available online. As well as full coverage of the prerequisites crisis, this issue explores how maths is helping tackle high-rise crime and features an exclusive interview with Fields Medallist, Professor Terry Tao.
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