[ASC-list] Science in demand this year

Jan Thomas jan.thomas at amsi.org.au
Thu Jan 19 10:56:36 UTC 2012

Dear Niall

There are some really worrying aspects about all of this. Yes, it's great students want to study science but it has to be in rigorous enough for them to have a chance of a career at the end. These results are only being obtained by eliminating pre-requisites and then fitting courses to the resulting intake.

Across Australia about  21 000 students take an advanced level mathematics course in Year 12. This is the total pool for the mathematically demanding courses if they are of any quality - mathematical sciences, physics, most engineering, chemistry, actuarial studies...

Another 40 000 or so take the intermediate level courses which are usually OK for biology, environmental science etc

The numbers you are quoting would appear to indicate that many under prepared students are about to embark on science courses. Biology without any mathematics or statistics is already rampant although the bulk of interesting biology careers require this.

Unfortunately school principals still assume a science graduate will have some mathematics in their background and will assign them to junior secondary classes. A colleague recently found a group of such Year 7 teachers who couldn't manage a test of basic mathematics that would be expected of the students they were meant to be teaching. 

Those on the list with children about to start secondary school should be very, very wary of who will be teaching them mathematics and with what background.


Jan Thomas
Senior Fellow

Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute
Building 161, C/- The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
P: 03 8344 1774 | M: 0419 006 205
 | F:  03 8344 6324 | E: jan at amsi.org.au | W: www.amsi.org.au 

On 19/01/2012, at 12:46 PM, Niall Byrne wrote:

> Dear ASCers,
> I was contacted by Channel Ten yesterday and asked to comment on the demand for science places in universities.
> I knew nothing, but then looked around a bit and it was good news.
> Science at the University of Melbourne was the most popular course in the Victoria with about  9,000 applications, plus nearly 5,000 for biomedical courses. The demand has pushed up the entry score (ATAR) up to 90.15. A decade ago you could get in with a 75.
> Science at Monash was the third most popular course with 4500 applications. (Arts at Melbourne was second).
> Health science was the top choice in Adelaide with 9443 applications, up four per cent on 2011.  Information technology was up 26 per cent.
> I’m told that there’s similar good news around the country but I’ve not dug out the numbers.
> This is good news. Is it repeated around the country. And does anyone know why its happening? What have we (collectively) done right? Or is there some larger social trend at work?
> Niall
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> Niall Byrne
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