Dáil Éireann - Volume 573 - 04 November, 2003
Written Answers. - Third Level Statistics.
Ms Enright Ms Enright
301. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students enrolled in courses in computing at universities and institutes of technology for the academic year 2003-04; the numbers enrolled in such courses for each year for the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24862/03]
Ms Enright Ms Enright
302. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students enrolled in courses in the life sciences at universities and institutes of technology for the academic year 2003-04; the numbers enrolled in such courses for each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24863/03]
Ms Enright Ms Enright
303. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of students enrolled in courses in mathematics and statistics at universities and institutes of technology for the academic year 2003-04; and the numbers enrolled in such courses for each of the past ten years. [24864/03]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): I propose to take Questions Nos. 301 to 303, inclusive, together.
The following table gives details of persons enrolled in courses referred to by the Deputy from 1992-93 to 1996-97.
*Included in 4,925 enrolled in mathematics.
In 1997 the international standard classification of education systems – ISCES – was revised and as a result new categorisations were decided upon. The following table gives details of these revised categorisations from 1997-98 to 2001-02, the latest year for which figures are available.
**A total of 27,087 students were enrolled in science courses in 1999-2000. A further breakdown of this figure is not available for this academic year.
A number of important steps have been taken to arrest the decline in interest in science which is a problem not just in Ireland but in most developed countries. In particular, important progress has been made in regard to curricular reform and inservice support, with new syllabi already implemented in leaving certificate biology and physics and chemistry; revised syllabi in primary science and junior certificate science beginning in schools in 2003-04; and work is under way on a new leaving certificate physical sciences syllabus to replace the physics and chemistry combined syllabus. All of these developments are being or have been supported by national inservice programmes for teachers. Three days inservice was provided for all primary teachers to support the implementation of the primary science programme, supported by a national team of 24 trainers. Some 1,700 second level biology teachers, 900 chemistry teachers and 1,000 physics teachers received inservice training for the leaving certificate revised syllabi and a national programme is now being implemented for the revised junior certificate science syllabus.
With regard to resourcing, substantial grants issued to primary schools in 1999, 2001 and 2002 at a cost of €10.376 million over three years, an additional per capita grant for physics and chemistry was made at leaving certificate level and a capital grants programme is available for senior cycle science ICT and science equipment. Allied to this is the recent announcement of a once-off grant scheme, likely to cost in the order of €12 million to support the implementation of the new junior certificate science syllabus.
ICT integration projects are under way in teaching and learning under the schools IT initiative and a new Scope initiative has been launched  in partnership with RTE, the NCCA and the National Centre for Technology in Education. Other advances include: the provision of materials and publications to schools to promote the attractiveness and relevance of science for students as a subject option and career path; reviews on mathematics, grading of subjects in the leaving certificate, gender equality issues in science and initial reports on teacher training; awareness measures supported by industry and third level colleges linking with schools; foundation, bridging and progression measures to promote access to third level education; quality assurance initiatives in third level, including the sciences; and the development of a national framework of qualifications by the National Qualifications Authority as an important step in developments to improve access, promote flexible assessment and the accreditation processes and enhance mobility across the further and higher education and training sectors.
This work continues to be progressed and enhanced as resources permit in collaboration and consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FORFAS and industry. My Department is fully committed to strengthening the quality of science teaching and learning, promoting increased scientific literacy and encouraging more students to choose science subjects at senior cycle and progress to third level options in this critical area as a vitally important part of the national strategy to support competitiveness and employment.
While the effect of these measures may only be felt in the longer term there are already some signs of improvement. At leaving certificate level there are three main science subjects, biology, chemistry and physics. Biology remains a popular subject with 40.3% of the cohort sitting the examination in June 2003, an increase from 39.8% in 2002. The uptake of physics and chemistry has been a cause of concern for some time. The decline in uptake of these subjects started in the 1980s and continued until recently. There has been a reversal of the trend in 2002. In the leaving certificate examination in June 2002, 15.6% of the cohort took physics, up from 14.1% in 2000, and 11.7% took chemistry, up from 11.1% in 1999. In 2003, 15.7% took physics and 11.9% took chemistry. At junior certificate level there is one science subject and the uptake of this subject has been consistently high with 85.7% of the cohort taking it in 2003.
Dáil Éireann 573 Written Answers. Third Level Statistics.