In Media releases, News

Wednesday 27 April 2022


New data released today by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) reveals Year 12 student enrolments in mathematics have dropped to an alarming new low, compromising Australia’s future workforce.

Typically, during the past decade, around 71-73% of Year 12 students have been enrolled in one or more mathematics subjects. However, AMSI’s new report, Year 12 Mathematics Participation Report Card, reveals enrolments plummeted in 2020 to just 66%.

AMSI is calling for immediate action in the classroom to be made, with measures to address the long-standing issue of out-of-field teaching a non-negotiable.

“Australia’s declining mathematics participation is a multi-faceted problem that requires national collaboration between government and educators to reverse,” said AMSI Director, Professor Tim Marchant.

“It is critical we act now to tackle out-of-field mathematics teaching, which is happening 40% of the time. We need to be working with these teachers, increasing their training and professional development,” Professor Marchant said.

Year 12 participation in higher-level mathematics has dropped below 10% for the first time ever, to 9.2% (compared to 11.6% in 2008), and participation in intermediate mathematics to 17.6% (compared to 23.3% in 2008). Participation rates for girls are poor, with only 6.7% enrolled in advanced maths (compared to 7.5% in 2019) and 16.8% in intermediate maths (compared to 20.5% in 2019). The male participation rate in advanced maths decreased even more, from 12.9% in 2019 to 11.9% in 2020.

With 75% of Australia’s fastest growing employment areas demanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, little time is being left to ensure Australia’s workforce is equipped for future innovation opportunities.

“Mathematics skills are essential across so many industry sectors and the severity of this situation will impact Australia’s innovation capabilities. Action must be taken now – these students are our future workforce,” Professor Marchant said.

“This data should be taken as a wakeup call and chance to reform,” said Professor Marchant.

AMSI calls for mathematics teacher training to be made a national priority under the next federal government.


Download AMSI’s full Year 12 Mathematics Participation Report:

For Interview:
Professor Tim Marchant, AMSI Director

Media Contact: Jo Piltz / 0424 004 553

About AMSI

The mathematical sciences are in high demand across all industry sectors; central to powering Australia’s STEM capability with the skills to drive new technologies and innovation.

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) is championing mathematics and statistics – working with schools, universities, industry, philanthropy, government and the community as a policy influencer enhancing impact, and as a program provider supporting education, research and innovation.

A collaboration of Australia’s university mathematics departments, its membership network includes over 40 Australian universities, mathematics societies and government agencies.

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