The Tech-Sounding Math-Free Degree!

Surely the solution to all our problems! Maths is completely broken at 2nd level, we are not in a position to fix it, so go with the flow and extract all math content from our 3rd and 4th level courses!

This would result in more students eager to do such a course (its easy!), no problems with retention (no-one fails!), and lots of graduates who will get jobs with companies starved of technical know-how. And while we are at it if its an ICT course take out the programming and software development skills as well, as they are hard to teach and hard to learn. 

All of our quality monitors would be quite happy with this, in fact such a course would pass completely under the quality radar. The statistics on completion rates etc. would look great, and no-one would complain. Certainly not the graduates who would think they were the bees knees and expect to quickly get to well-paid top management positions where their lack of technical skills would not be an issue.

(Occasionally I do get such a graduate coming to me with top honours in such a degree and enquiring about doing a Ph.D. It is difficult to explain to them that they have been sold a pup in terms of their 3rd level education, and that there is no way in the world that they would be able for a computing Ph.D.)

And of course the problem wouldn't be solved, just pushed up the food chain. It’s the aghast employer who learns to their horror that the honours science graduate can’t do long division. 

Meanwhile big multi-nationals, while going along with the myth of our world class education system, grumble amongst themselves, quietly import people from abroad to do the hard technical stuff, and plan their departure from our shores.

To avoid such dumbing down (for that is what it is) we urgently need to fix math at 2nd level. Here is where “Project Maths” comes in, which seems to have gone from being a blatant political fig-leaf (politicians must of course be seen to be “doing something”), to being the fount of all our hopes. Frankly the jury is out on Project Math. I have heard good and bad reports. Let us hope it lives up to its billing, as there is a lot riding on it.

Meanwhile in DCU we will continue to insist that graduates emerging from our computing degree courses will have strong technical skills. This is why employers consistently indicate a preference for our graduates. If this means taking the occasional hit from an ill-informed media about poor retention rates, then so be it.