All universities to give bonus points for maths
ALL seven universities have now given their backing to the introduction of bonus points for higher-level maths in the Leaving Certificate in 2012
It means students currently in fifth year will be rewarded with additional CAO points for achievement in the paper in two years time.
The bonus points scheme is aimed at boosting the number of candidates sitting higher- level maths, currently at a low of 16pc.
NUI Galway (NUIG) was the last of the universities to approve the controversial scheme, which has been pushed by Government and industry.
NUI Galway registrar and deputy president Professor Jim Ward indicated that while there was scepticism about its effectiveness, the university did not wish to stand in the way of its development.
Many academics are opposed to bonus points because of the absence of evidence that they have the desired result of encouraging more school-leavers to do science, engineering and technology courses in college.
The precise detail of how the additional points will be awarded, along with the timescale for introduction, has yet to be agreed among the universities. The institutes of technology have also backed the plan.
The NUIG academic council agreed on Tuesday evening to support its introduction. However, Prof Ward said, "it would be a mistake to view bonus points as the complete solution to the maths problem in Ireland".
He said the teaching of maths at second level by teachers who were not fully qualified to teach the subject was a more fundamental problem.
Prof Ward called for a programme of professional development for teachers that would enable them to gain the skills they needed to teach mathematics to the required level.
"The bonus-points scheme will only succeed if it is part of a wider package of initiatives, including ongoing reform of the mathematics curriculum, more support and training for second-level teachers, and widening of access to higher mathematics so that it is offered in all schools," he added.
Irish teenagers rate only average internationally in maths, which is regarded as a crucial skill for so-called smart economy jobs.