The Government should appoint a national mathematical sciences advisor and run a 5-year awareness campaign to increase participation and achievement in mathematics and statistics in Australia.
These were the key recommendations from the national forum.
“This forum has shown everyone the need for intervention at multiple points on the educational pipeline. We are seeing both awareness and a willingness to act in the statements of the key players, so now we are holding our collective breath”, said Professor Geoff Prince, Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.
The extensive range of careers pursued by mathematical sciences graduates remains unknown to school students and their parents, as does the critical utility of school mathematics in trades and professions.
Professor Brian Schmidt, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, said, “Most people who have skilled jobs in Australia have maths at the core of their job”.
Chief Scientist Ian Chubb said that mathematical scientists needed to work together to communicate the importance of the discipline to the Australian public.
“An education in science and maths is a very valuable thing to have. You know about evidence, you know how to analyse, you know how to articulate it…If you’re working in the general workforce you will be applying those analytical and integrated skills in a very professional way”, Professor Chubb said.
The forum has come as the Chief Scientist is considering measures to address major challenges in mathematics and science.
“These are critical areas for our future. The better we do now, the better that future will be”, Professor Chubb said.
The forum came five years on from the An investment in the future forum which discussed the findings of the Australian Academy of Sciences’ National Strategic Review of Mathematical Science Research in Australia and provides an opportunity to endorse a coherent action plan to ensure the supply of graduates in the mathematical sciences and quantitative disciplines.
Nobel prize winner Professor Brian Schmidt was the guest speaker at the conference dinner, he gave a very powerful talk about the importance of mathematics.