The report card is in for Year 12 mathematics participation with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) revealing a bleak picture for industry and innovation.
The latest data reveals a significant slide in Year 12 high-level mathematics participation over the past 20 years. University pre-requisites in mathematics and engineering remain a key factor in this trend. AMSI has called for urgent action on the issue as part of its detailed submission to the Australian Government, Vision for a Maths Nation.
“As a first step, re-introduction of pre-requisites for entry into science and engineering courses will send an unequivocal message to school communities that universities value these subjects,” says AMSI Director Professor Geoff Prince.
Year 12 higher-level mathematics participation has almost halved over the past 20 years. Only 10.0% of students participated in advanced mathematics in 2014 (compared with 14.2% in 1995) and 19.3% in intermediate mathematics (compared with 27.3% in 1995). Participation rates for girls are particularly poor with only 6.8% enrolled in advanced maths and 18.2% in intermediate, compared with 13.4% and 20.6% for boys.
“This situation prevents Australia meeting a galloping demand for graduates with sound mathematical and statistical skills and it puts a brake on the national productivity growth enjoyed by other OECD countries where mathematics and statistics graduation levels are, on average, twice as high as those in Australia,” says Professor Prince.
AMSI has recently partnered with the BHP Billiton Foundation to deliver a five-year national awareness campaign, Choose Maths, to increase participation of women and girls in mathematics and assist teachers to more effectively deliver mathematics education. The program will also increase awareness of the value of mathematics as a career pathway amongst students, teachers and parents.
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Data since 1995. Page 11, Discipline Profile of the Mathematical Science