# Flows of Mathematics Students

### From Mathsreach

**Download article: Flows of Mathematics Students**(IMAges Issue 10: March 2011)

The numbers of mathematical science graduates at all levels are generally

increasing, except for a few countries, according to the ICMI Pipeline project

co-ordinated by ICMI president Bill Barton. This contradicts an international perception

that the number of mathematics graduatesis falling.

But the percentage of mathematical science graduates is declining slightly. This may be

because more courses with mathematical content are attracting school leavers who

would otherwise enrol in undergraduate mathematics.

Many senior secondary mathematics teachers in New Zealand, Australia, and the

UK are also approaching retirement, and shortages of mathematics teachers are likely

as fewer students enter teacher training. The project was initiated at the request

of ICMI’s parent body, the International Mathematical Union, and has collected data

from ten countries: New Zealand, Australia, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Portugal,

Scotland, Taiwan, the UK and the USA. It found that the situation differed markedly

in different countries, so has focused on national case studies of four transition

points rather than a comprehensive comparison.

**ansitions were from school to undergraduate courses; undergraduate**

to postgraduate courses, university into teaching, and university into other

employment.

Results indicate that in New Zealand the number of school leavers qualifying in the

mathematical sciences is increasing (see graph), as are the numbers of Bachelor,

Masters and PhD graduates. However, mathematics graduates are a declining

percentage of total graduates, and the median age for secondary mathematics

teachers has grown to 45 - 49.

The project aims to provide data for educational decision making in different

countries. Barton has presented results at conferences in Poland, Spain and New

Zealand and the report is being finalised. The project will continue to update data

from project countries and add other countries to the database.

**See** Pipeline Project