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Teaching & Learning Centre

National Research Network

Press Release: STEM Teaching Crisis

May 10th 2019
STEM Teaching Crisis

A report released today by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) highlights ‘swelling secondary student numbers and a drought in mathematically qualified teachers’. The same statement could well be said of teachers qualified in physics and chemistry.

This is a fundamental problem that undermines all of the strategies to improve the STEM experience for students and engage them in it.

The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) calls on State and Federal Ministers of Education to act urgently on the concerns identified in the report, and to extend the scope of their actions to cover all disciplines involved in STEM.

The AMSI press release highlights the lack of transparency about the STEM knowledge base of the teaching workforce, and the extent to which teachers out-of-field are being asked to teach STEM subjects.

Education authorities may, and sometimes do, question the importance of teachers completing university studies in STEM. Whatever the merits of that argument, it doesn’t justify having no publically stated and monitored measures to assure the quality of disciplinary grounding and experience required to undertake STEM teaching.

The AMSI report also demonstrates that you won’t lift the STEM knowledge base of the teaching worforce by focussing on teacher education, that is, pre-service education. Measures need to be taken for the existing workforce.

However, there is little space and little reward for teacher professional learning. There needs to be a change in teachers’ professional environment so that their own learning is considered to be as serious a matter as the learning of their students.

We are all life long learners these days. Professions learn through respected professional networks that involve all key stakeholders in a peer environment. Until the education system supports comprehensive professional networks that engage with industry, universities and the community it is unlikely that we will solve the problem of lifting the STEM knowledge base of the teaching workforce.

Professor Brian Yates President, ACDS
0439 281 553
brian.yates@utas.edu.au

Professor John Rice, Executive Director, ACDS
0438 438 097
john.rice@adelaide.edu.au

ACDS AGM 2019

This year the ACDS Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 28 October – Tuesday 29 October at University House, ANU, Canberra.

Registrations are now open!

We will be presenting a program that includes key speakers from Government, key science agencies and organisations, and organisations that facilitate impact and engagement.

We welcome suggestions as to what the broad themes of the AGM could be this year – bigger picture issues that can guide our selection of speakers.

Lunches on both days will be in the same style as last year, working lunches with small group facilitated discussions on topics of interest to deans of science.

Please let us know what topics you think would be of most interest.

There will be a catered networking event at University House (drinks and canapes) at the end of day 1.

Dinner will be at the Courgette which is a short walk from University House, and from nearby hotels.

Registration for the dinner is required with a $50 co-payment.

I look forward to seeing you at the AGM

John Rice

ACDS AGM condemns interference in ARC grants – press release

In solidarity with our colleagues in the humanities and social sciences, and via a unanimous resolution of its Annual General Meeting, the ACDS deplores the unwarranted and unreasonable intervention of the Minister for Education in vetoing the award of a tranche of ARC grants.

We call upon the Minister to explain the basis on which he decided to defy the results of a robust review process by national and international experts.

We reject any implied criticism of the ARC, whose grant processes are conducted with the highest standards of integrity and expertise.

We call upon the government to commit publicly to ensure that no further ministerial interference occurs in the award of ARC or NHMRC grants.

 

Professor Brian Yates
President, ACDS
0439 281 553
brian.yates@utas.edu.au
Professor John Rice
Executive Director, ACDS
0438 438 097
john.rice@adelaide.edu.au

STEM enrolment patterns 2002 – 2015

 
Enrolments at Australian universities increased 56% in 2002-2015, but only 32% in STEM due to a crash of 23% in IT numbers.
 
Taken separately the sciences and engineering appear to fare better than average, with growth of 67% and 73%. However, this better than average performance is due entirely to overseas student enrolments. Take them out, and domestic student enrolments increased only by the university average of 56% in the sciences. In engineering the increase is well below, at 43%.
 
These figures and much more are contained in the report, STEM in Australia: The statistical patterns of university science and technology in the twenty-first century, the latest in a series by Dr Ian Dobson, commissioned by the ACDS. You can find the whole report, or the entire series on our Publications page.