Are maths and science enrolments increasing?

Parliament house flag post

Are maths and science enrolments increasing?

Posted 2/12/2011 by Coral Dow

In the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook the Government announced savings of $403.6 million over three years through a measure to increase the HECS amount for mathematics and science students from 2013. The increase will reverse the 2009 reduction in HECS which aimed at increasing enrolments in the science disciplines.

This post discusses the trends in enrolments following the 2008-2009 Budget measure.

In the 2008-2009 Budget the Rudd Government honoured an election commitment to reduce the HECS HELP fees for mathematics and science disciplines. The measure was implemented with passage of the Higher Education Support Amendment (2008 Budget Measures) Bill 2008.

From 1 January 2009 contributions were reduced from $7260 per year to the lowest level of $4077 equivalent to the national priority places of education and nursing.

Despite many studies that concluded that HECS costs do not deter students, including studies following the introduction of differential HECS rates in 1999, the Government reduced the HECS rate in a belief that more students would enrol in the mathematics and science disciplines.

The effect was immediate, in 2009 undergraduate applications for Natural and Physical Sciences increased by 17.1% on 2008 and increased again in 2010 by 13.1%. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) noted that ‘the two years’ growth more than reversed the declines in demand for this field between 2004 and 2008. This growth follows a suite of measures introduced in the 2008-09 Budget to encourage enrolments in Mathematics and Science.’

Increases in applications carried over to increasing enrolments: in 2009 commencing domestic student numbers in the broad discipline of Natural and Physical Sciences increased 13.6% on 2008, compared to the overall increase in commencing domestic students of 9.6%. In 2010 the increase continued with Natural and Physical Sciences enrolments recording the highest increase of any broad discipline: 12.6 % on 2009. In comparison overall commencing domestic students increased by 6.5%.

An alternative statistical source is for commencing bachelor places which also show increases: an increase of 8.7% in 2009 and 19.4% in 2010 on 2008. (see table below). Again these increases were higher than the increase for all commencing places. Application and enrolment statistics for 2011 are not yet publicly available.

Commencing Domestic Bachelor Places20082009Increase 2010Increase on 2008
Mathematical Sciences7 3728 0589.38 32812.9
Physics and Astronomy2 0052 1396.72 26813.1
Chemical Sciences3 5793 9089.24 35321.6
Earth Sciences9571 10715.71 11616.6
Biological Sciences11 16111 9447.013 27819.0
Other Sciences1 2861 48915.82 12865.5
All Science26 36028 6458.731 47119.4
All other disciplines1200051299318.213831915.3


Despite this evidence apparently supporting the 2008 decision, the Government has announced that from 2013 student contributions for mathematics, statistics and science units will return to the Band 2 amount, estimated to be $8353 in 2013. This measure will provide budget savings of $403.6 million over three years.

In a media release the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, stated: ‘The reduction in student contributions for mathematics, statistics and science units since 2009 has not been effective in substantially increasing the number of students undertaking maths and science at university. Students are predominantly motivated not by price but by their interests, abilities and career preferences when selecting courses.’

Comments

  • 21/01/2014 3:41 PM
    David Barry said:

    The student load data for the narrow discipline groups are not reliable, for reasons I've detailed here. Briefly: most of the students making up the EFTSL numbers in the table are not maths or science students, but rather students from other degrees who are required to do some 1st year maths or physics (say). Excluding non-science students changes the increases over 2008-2009 quite dramatically.


Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.

Add your comment

[Click to expand]




Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print

FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament


Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Archive

Syndication

Tagcloud

Refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment indigenous Australians Sport illicit drugs gambling people trafficking taxation Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force higher education welfare policy United Nations health financing Asia Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget school education forced labour aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA income management Industrial Relations emissions trading dental health Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention 43rd Parliament Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police people smuggling poker machines National Disability Insurance Scheme Australian Crime Commission slavery Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service constitution International Women's Day corruption Afghanistan Fair Work Act child protection Aviation debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure ALP New Zealand Newstart Parenting Payment Census politics High Court skilled migration election results voting mental health Federal Court terrorist groups Higher Education Loan Program HECS governance youth paid parental leave environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs Senate doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers Special Rapporteur Electoral reform political parties banking firearms public policy Population violence against women domestic violence China ADRV terrorism science research and development social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation accountability public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing by-election European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas family assistance planning Senators and Members United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs health reform Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing health system money laundering early childhood education Canada Financial sector UK Parliament national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity transparency Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leadership Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration Australia Greens federal election 2010 servitude Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship human rights emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency productivity human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying asylum seekers Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia United Kingdom GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits ANZUS qantas counselling

Show all
Show less
Back to top