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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 12:48 GMT
University scraps maths degree
maths lesson
Pupils should be encouraged to opt for maths say experts
Hull University is to scrap its maths degree course because of "falling interest" in the subject.

There will be no new intakes of students to its maths BSc course - 130 had applied for this autumn.

The university says the course is no longer viable because of the funding system and problems in attracting home students to the subject.

Maths experts are warning more closures will follow unless action is taken to revive interest in the subject.

Last year, the government announced plans to try to safeguard some subjects at university level. Maths was on the list, together with sciences and some modern languages.

Universities which have closed departments recently have complained that the way they are funded makes it difficult to justify the continuation of some courses.

The vice-chancellor of Hull, Professor David Drewry, said the decision to scrap the maths degree was "regrettable".

"However, we have a responsibility to ensure that the university operates on sound financial and business planning principles and therefore it is vital that we do not shy away from making any difficult decisions," he said.

"In deciding to withdraw mathematics provision at Hull, we are doing our utmost to protect the interests of university staff and students."

The university said it had become dependent on attracting international students to fill the maths course.

More than a third of the 175 maths students currently at Hull are from overseas, compared to the university's average of 16%.

'Fearful'

There will still be a centre of maths at Hull, providing teaching to other subjects, including teacher training.

At Nottingham Trent University, executives are also looking at possible cuts.

A spokesperson said: "Nottingham Trent University has a range of maths provision across several areas of the university.

"It is currently reviewing how best to provide an appropriate level of maths support for its academic programmes."

The London Mathematical Society, which represents some UK mathematicians, is very concerned about the closure of Hull's course.

The organisation's vice-president, Professor Amanda Chetwynd, said: "We are extremely worried when any university closes its maths department.

"We are fearful there may be many more in the future."

The society says action is needed to encourage more students to opt to study maths and says bursaries would be a good step forward.

Professor Chetwynd said 30% of the people teaching maths at school did not have degrees in the subject and were less likely to pass on enthusiasm for the subject to pupils.

"We believe much of the problem is due to maths teaching in schools. We need more students to come forward to break the cycle," she said.

Hull says it is in touch with the 130 pupils who had applied to study maths there from this autumn. It is offering suggestions on alternative courses.


SEE ALSO:
Clarke calls for degree safeguards
01 Dec 04 |  Education
Maths tests 'putting off pupils'
04 Feb 05 |  Education
Maths exams 'fail at all levels'
20 Feb 04 |  Education
Debate over maths teaching
02 Jul 03 |  Education
Action plan to rescue maths
24 Feb 04 |  Education


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