Dear subscriber,

In this last newsletter for the year you will find news about three recently released reports on research  supported or commissioned by the ACDS:

• The ACER national study on how pass rates in first year science subjects relate to students' uptake of and performance in Year 12 mathematics subjects,

• a snapshot of the current opportunities for science students to participate in work integrated learning activities, and 

• current practices in Faculties of Science to recruit and support Indigenous science students.

These reports cover important areas of admission to university science courses, curriculum development and student support, to support decision making in the ACDS member institutions.


Best regards

Cristina Varsavsky



The Australian Council of Deans Science (ACDS) commissioned the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) to undertake a study of the impact of year 12 mathematics on first year university science performance. To our knowledge it is the first such national study, albeit quite modest, that has been undertaken.

The study looked at 16,436 first year students in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics from twelve universities covering a range of types. It looked at their pass rates against the level of mathematics that they studied in year 12, including whether they had studied any mathematics of significance to a science degree.

The findings are quite interesting and should inform the ongoing debate on mathematics prerequisites for university courses. Read the summary and a full report here



Work integrated learning (WIL) has been an ACDS priority area since 2015  because it saw it as a means to improve the employability of science graduates, connect them with industry and better prepare them for the world of work. The ACDS has led two large-scale national projects to advance this agenda: Leadership for WIL in Science funded by the Office of the Chief Scientist, and the OLT funded project Successful WIL in Science. These projects generated a high level of activity and engaged academics, professional staff, and industry partners across the country. At the conclusion of these projects, the ACDS funded a third project to explore changes in provision of WIL in science faculties.

As with the previous two WIL projects, this third project was lead by Professor Liz Johnson and consisted of a desktop review of WIL subjects available through the BSc, and self-reported WIL activities collected through a survey to science faculties (or equivalent).

Read the summary of findings and a full report here



A study has been undertaken to understand the initiatives presently in place at Science faculties of Australian universities to assist in the enrolment, retention and completion of Indigenous people within science courses, as a means of identifying current practices and exemplars. The project was commissioned by the University of Tasmania’s College of Sciences and Engineering and endorsed and partially funded by the ACDS.

Deans of Science were surveyed about their practices related to the recruitment of Indigenous students, and school engagement, specific support provided before and after enrolment, awards and scholarships, mentoring, and engagement with alumni. 

Read the report and its recommendations here.


Upcoming conferences of interest

ASERA 2020, Novotel Northbeach, Wollongong
Be part of a collegial science education community.
ASERA is one of the oldest and most highly regarded science education research associations in the world. Each year ASERA brings together science education researchers and educators to share ideas that change the nature and practices of science education.

ASERA 2020 is designed to optimise constructive discussion about research in science education. In 2020 there will be two formats for presentations: Papers and Posters. Papers will also be clustered for two Focus Days: ‘Focus on Teachers K-12’ or ‘Focus on Higher Education’. In 2020 there will  also be a number of activities before and after the main ASERA2020 Conference. There is something for everyone: the biennial ECR/HDR Workshop; a primary science teacher educator workshop; ESERA language & literacy SIG; Tours of Wollongong University
Call for Abstracts closes on Monday 24th February 2020.
For further information see the conference website.

4th Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA) National Conference, to be held on 27-29 July 2020 at the Yirrkala Community. Yirrkala is an Indigenous Community in East Arnhem Shire, Northern Territory of Australia. 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSIMA) is a non-profit organisation with the vision that “All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners will be successful in mathematics”.  ATSIMA has a biennial conference that explores the teaching of mathematics from a cultural perspective and, in doing so, explore the many connections between mathematics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.  The theme of ATSIMA 2020 is Nhe Wangana Nhe Djaamamirriyangana: Speak It You Create It. The theme focuses on the need for bilingual education and not allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages to slip away.  Maintaining diversity of our languages, maintains diversity in creativity and innovation that will drive a better future for all Australians. 

For further information see the conference website.