The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) today cautioned that the new system of awarding of bonus points to those who pass Honours Maths at Honours level may have the unwelcome effect of depriving some students of third level places in disciplines in which they have an interest and expertise and which are not maths based. Moreover, the bonus points may not lead to an increase in the number of graduates in maths based disciplines.
Speaking today, TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann said:
‘The Leaving Certificate is already a high stakes examination and the provision of bonus points for Honours Mathematics is further raising these stakes.
It is doubtful that the provision of bonus points for candidates who pass Honours Mathematics will have the desired effect of boosting the numbers of third level graduates in maths based disciplines.
Bonus points are applied for all students who pass the subject, irrespective of whether the third level course they wish to pursue has any mathematical component. We have a real concern that the new incentive will instead unfairly penalise those students whose relative strengths lie in subject areas other than mathematics, squeezing them out of those disciplines of greatest interest to them in which their relative strengths lie.
To use an example, two students might seek a place on an Arts course specialising in English and History, one of whom took Honours Mathematics in the Leaving Certificate, one who did not. Both may have attained similar grades in the Leaving Certificate with the crucial difference being that the one passing Honours Mathematics would be gifted with an additional 25 points, securing their place at the expense of the other student for a course with no mathematical link. Indeed, the student who did not take Honours Mathematics may even have had a higher points total before the bonus points were factored in. This is clearly flawed.
We believe that a more appropriate system would see bonus points awarded by individual third level colleges for students seeking access to specific maths related courses. There is no question that this would be a more robust and equitable approach to securing the end outcome of more graduates in certain subject areas.’