[ASC-list] Science in demand this year

Bobby Cerini bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au
Thu Jan 19 03:24:03 UTC 2012

Several years ago I was intrigued by a claim put out by Melbourne University
that their science numbers had increased. I checked with them and a few
other university science departments to see if I could learn more about the
apparent increase, and I learned the following:

Absolute numbers of undergrad applications are recorded, however at the 4
institutions I spoke to (Melbourne, Monash, ANU and Sydney) no regular data
was at that time being gathered on why people are applying to, staying in or
leaving university science courses. The people I spoke with (Deans and
senior PR people) thought other institutions were in a similar position.

According to Melbourne, their claim may actually have been a bit of
misplaced PR ­ in effect there had been a sudden change in metrics,
associated with the introduction of the Melbourne Model. It appeared to have
a positive effect, because fewer, broader courses were being offered and the
definition of Œscience¹ applications had now changed.

So, I suppose I would be cautious about any such claims, unless I can be
certain that the metrics are exactly the same year-on-year. The
ever-changing parameters of university and high school curricula, and how
course and subject choices are classified, suggests this might be difficult.

I have not seen the latest research but past trends (up to 2005) have been
documented to some extent by The Australian Council for the Deans of
Science. Their occasional papers on the topic are listed at:


Bobby Cerini
Consultant in Science Communication & PhD Candidate

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
Building 38A ­ Physics Link
Canberra, ACT 0200 
CRICOS provider 00120C

Telephone: 0415 032 701
Email: bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au
Web: http://cpas.anu.edu.au

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