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The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) welcomes Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Cabinet announcement, following the Coalition’s re-election to Federal Government.

The Institute congratulates the incoming Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, and looks forward to working with him to strengthen Australia’s mathematical sciences and STEM capability from the classroom to universities and industry.

“As we strive to implement robust education, higher education, research and innovation policy, reforms to address key challenges across the mathematical pipeline must remain a key priority,” says AMSI Director, Professor Tim Brown.

Australian Government funding has played an important role in the success of AMSI programs through the Securing the Mathematical Workforce project and the Supporting more women in STEM careers: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI)—National Research Internship Program (NRIP).

Sustained investment in these programs will play an important role in delivering on the agenda outlined in the Academy of Science’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan. AMSI is also very pleased to see that Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, a passionate advocate of increasing female participation in STEM, will continue in her role and looks forward to working with her on this.

“We are providing real opportunities for women in mathematics and STEM through delivery of PhD internships under NRIP, as well as opening essential opportunities to engage with the national and international research communities,” says Professor Brown.

With Australia’s international rankings in mathematics falling and students shunning high level mathematics subjects, AMSI continues to call for decisive action on out-of-field mathematics teaching, engagement of girls in mathematics, careers awareness and university mathematics pre-requisites.

“AMSI is keen that the Coalition work with state governments to establish data on the extent of out-of-field teaching in mathematics and review requirements for mathematical knowledge for mathematics teachers,” says Professor Brown.

Professor Brown warned that without a clear picture of the depth and impact of out-of-field teaching, planning was impossible. He also cautioned recruitment of subject specialists into full-time education would not be enough, with investment in programs to skill existing teachers essential.

“You cannot undo three decades of inaction through recruitment of specialist graduates alone. AMSI’s Schools Program has seen first-hand the benefits of teacher training and professional development through the Choose Maths project, particularly in remote and regional areas,” says Professor Brown.

AMSI is also keen to see Government funding to drive a national careers campaign building on the success and impact of AMSI’s Choose Maths Careers campaign, already in classrooms. This is essential to assist students to link classroom learning to real-world applications and reframe mathematics as a career pathway.

“A significant enabler, mathematics underpins how we engage with the world and enhances capacity to drive research and innovate. It is important students, particularly girls, understand the opportunities opened by mathematical skills,” says Professor Brown.

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