Nothing adding up as Australian uni students fail basic sums

Nothing is adding up for Australian mathematics students.

First year university students are so poorly educated in mathematics that university professors are dropping it from tertiary courses.

A sticking point for many students is where to put the decimal point.

A report presented to the University of Western Sydney says tests found that most first year university students were incapable solving a Year 5, school maths problems.

More than 56 percent of first year students could not find 4 percent of $6000. Students taking the test were not studying maths as a separate subject but needed it for other courses including analysis and statistics.

The falling maths standards are a setback to Australia’s burgeoning start-up industry which calls on extensive maths skills in the vast majority of projects.

Unless corrected quickly, the lower standards of mathematics comprehension will also impact on households as well as highly technological subjects.

Carpenters, builders, architects and engineers are just some of the employment opportunities that call for a thorough understanding and application of mathematics.

Leanne Rylands, associate professor in mathematics at the University of Western Sydney’s centre for research  in mathematics and data science,  said some students were obviously leaving high school without understanding the use of a decimal point.

Ms Rylands said the exposure of falling maths standards supported similar material.

“We’ve been in a 30 year downward spiral,’ she said.

“Universities are now teaching school level mathematics. Eventually it becomes too hard for people teaching classes like business studies , so they leave out the maths part.”Another international survey showed Australian 15-year-olds are three years behind in mathematical skills compared to students in Singapore, which topped the OCED list.