Friday 9 December 2016

STEM graduates squeezed out of teacher training courses

Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30

'An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.' Photo: PA
'An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.' Photo: PA

Graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are badly needed in schools - but they are being turned away from teacher training courses.

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They are being squeezed out of the two-year postgraduate, Professional Master of Education (PME) that would qualify them to teach. The 'Striking the Balance' report says any shortage of STEM graduates on PMEs is not because of lack of applicants, but because they don't score sufficiently highly on the system used for entry.

The applications system used by UCD, UCC, NUIG and Maynooth University, accounting for 75pc of newly-qualified post primary teachers, scores applicants three ways:

  • Performance in a Level 8 (honours) degree (max 51 points);
  • Additional academic qualification, such as a master's degree (max 20 points);
  • Professional experience (max five points).

There is no recognition for the fact that STEM degrees are usually four years, while arts degrees are usually three. An advantage for arts graduates is that they can get an additional qualification in the time it takes a STEM student to complete an undergraduate degree.

In one university that accepted 120 PME students in 2014 and 2015, only five were STEM graduates compared to an annual average of 30 in the previous decades.

Irish Independent

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