Virtually every science (and computing) course in DCU (as an obvious example) requires a minimum maths grade of either an HD3 or OC3 grade. In terms of points, an HD3 is equivalent to 45 points whereas an OC3 is a mere 20 points. So, what DCU and other universities were doing was equating 45 and 20 points for minimum entry requirements in maths. Perhaps you might explain how the minimum entry requirement for students can be set at two different points values? Either it’s 45 points or 20 points, but not both at the same time. Why are the points lower for ordinary level students?!

Students realised that they didn’t need to take Higher level maths to meet the minimum entry requirements for a huge range of science and technology courses. And so, what we saw was more and more students opting for the Ordinary level. By doing so, they hoped it would lead to better performance in their remaining 5 subjects and hence have a better change at meeting the CAO points cutoffs. And, I repeat, this was the fault of the universities themselves.

Bonus points for maths are completely unneccessary. All universities had to do was square the Higher and Ordinary level maths entry requirements. This would mean that courses requiring maths would require a decent grade in maths. Courses not requiring maths wouldn’t.

If students suddenly found themselves in a situation where mediocre Ordinary level grades (like DCU’s OC3 requirement, which last year more than 66% of Ordinary level students met) would not meet the minimum requirements for science and technology courses, I have no doubt that many more would have taken Higher level maths.

We caused the problem with stupid entry requirements and yet don’t seem to be prepared to acknowledge that fact.

]]>However, I’d also suggest awarding some bonus points for higher level English (perhaps fewer, say 15). The ability to construct sentences and make reasoned arguments also help with post-degree competitiveness (to borrow no-name’s jargon from above).

Of course we’d have to stop there — can’t have bonus points for everything ðŸ™‚

]]>I couldn’t agree more. Also 25 points is not that much for a subject that takes up more time than the rest put together

]]>The substantive issue, that we are not educating sufficient numbers of school leavers with the required mathematical skills to get places in university, is basically founded on the relatively poor mathematical (and science) teaching skills of many of our national school teachers and the resources available to them in our national schools. The current furore on university bonus points for maths is centred around trying to find a soultion that, quite frankly, cannot generally be found at 2nd level schools. Children from ages 4 to12 attending our national schools have brains like sponges, where they can soak up lots of information including mathematical principles – maths CAN be fun and interesting! Regrettably some of our national school teachers who teach maths have brains like sieves, where their understanding or interest in maths has long since gone (if it was there at all), leaving them and their charges bored, suspicious or downright anatgonistic to maths – they shut down, they say it’s too hard, and they bring these fears and feelings of low confidence into their secondary schools with the consequences that we have been observing for years, until-BINGO!! Let’s give those that have made it through national and secondary school maths (even those with a vestige of ability) extra points, and PROBLEM SOLVED. No. I agree – review the points system, but more importantly, train and resource our national school teachers to deliver more interesting and enagaging maths and scinces programmes in our national schools.

]]>On the higher level maths. The whole thing seems cosmetic.

]]>The puzzling claim is made that the mathematics based bonus points have “distorted” the system.

Your example focuses on students with no interest in science or engineering and who bring mathematics based points to the equation in gaining entry to an English course. It is difficult to see what is wrong with this. It cannot be that the analytical processes involved in mathematics have no place in the study of English: that would be tantamount to arguing not that the study of English involves purely subjective analysis, but that it entails irrational and disordered thought when it is at its best.

The person with the greatest reason to object in this situation is the student of English who did not get the course as a result; however, this objection seems best characterized as personal disappointment rather than systemic injustice.

Is it not the case that such a person, who is, by construction, at the bottom of the potential entrance cohort for the class, with less demonstrable competence in mathematics than the candidate who got in because of mathematics, would be commensurately less suited to economic survival in the world four years later, equipped with an English degree? Is it not in that person’s interest to find something sooner rather than later which would give greater access to post-degree competitive advantages?

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