Universities welcome idea of bonus CAO points for maths


UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS have reacted positively to new proposals for bonus CAO points for maths.

Dr John Hughes, president of NUI Maynooth, said universities would respond in a favourable way to a move by Minister for Education Mary Coughlan.

The Minister wants colleges to award “significant” bonus points to students taking higher level maths in the Leaving Cert.

Dr Hughes is the current chair of the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the group which represents the seven university presidents.

Ms Coughlan has also asked college presidents to accept students who fail higher level maths (scoring grade E) in the Leaving Cert exam.

At present colleges will not accept students who fail maths at either level for most courses. Ms Coughlan says the fear of failing higher level is forcing many students to drop to ordinary level.

The issue of bonus points will be considered by university heads at their monthly meeting shortly. The IUA says any final decision will be taken in the context of the overall effort to combat the crisis in maths, including the roll-out of the new maths course known as Project Maths.

A move to introduce bonus points would have to be agreed by the academic councils of individual universities.

Prof Hughes said he would be “broadly speaking” in favour of such a move.

However, he told RTÉ that bonus points were by no means a panacea to the problem of a low uptake of maths and science subjects at third level.

There were concerns, he said, that introducing bonus points for maths could have a distorting effect on the subject choices made by students.

Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes yesterday claimed students were continuing to lose out because of the delay in introducing bonus points.

“It is simply not good enough for Mary Coughlan to say that she is in favour of bonus points for maths and then do nothing about it,” he said.