This is a set of comments from our online petition that come from outside the mathematical community, or from the USQ community. (For a selection of comments from the broader mathematical community, click here.)

— From statistics —

Cutting back on mathematics to save money is like the

farmer’s family eating the seed corn. I guess young

people in South Queensland will have to go elsewhere

if they’re interested in mathematics, statistics, or

computing. And I thought Australia had progressed

beyond third-world thinking….Department of Statistics, Stanford University

Information is that under the USQ proposal, only 10% of the government funding to the university for the service teaching would be spent on the salaries of the staff doing the teaching. The irony is that just the new increase by itself in government funding to maths and stats would pay for the current academic staff in maths and stats at USQ. In addition, the proposal apparently severely limits the training of future teachers. If this is correct, then the proposal is reprehensible and unethical towards students, government and the community. But there are also fundamental issues of great importance to the community here. It is easy for administrations and governments to say that the training of specialists can happen at some universities, but this ignores many of the most important functions of mathematics and statistics departments. A mathematics and statistics department is the first department that should be established in every modern university. Quality service teaching needs a mathematics and statistics department to attract and retain appropriate staff and provide support and keeping up-to-date with developments in research, industry AND higher education teaching. The students who are attracted to continue with mathematics and statistics into the wide variety of career paths open to them can also be attracted through good service teaching and do not necessarily start in traditional universities. Mathematics and statistics departments also provide vital and extensive support for academics and students in other disciplines, and are involved in important outreach to schools, teachers and the community. They also either supply, sustain or bolster extra practical learning support in maths and stats for all students. USQ should be particularly proud of their maths and stats department which has done wonderful and innovative work in developing a national statistics competition, supplying the essential problem materials for popular school maths tournaments, developing and supporting an innovative international symposia series (the Delta conferences) on teaching undergraduate maths and stats, and supporting local schools, community and industry.

Professor Helen MacGillivray

Carrick Senior Fellow

President-elect International Assoc Statistics Education

School of Mathematical Sciences

QUT

I strongly support this petition and urge the administration at USQ to carefully reconsider its position.

As a sitting statistics chair of a US University which made the mistake of summarily disbanding its own Statistics Department over a decade ago, I can testify that the consequences of the action were wholly negative: collaborative and consulting services desperately needed to maintain the University’s scholarly standing in our modern, data-rich research era suffered almost immediately, leading to an estimated campus-wide loss of $10-20M (US) in external grant funding over the period since the department was disbanded. Recognizing this error, the University has now reconstruct the statistics program, but at significantly higher cost and effort than would have been necessary had the program remained in place. I urge USQ to avoid repeating this mistake.

Chair, Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Statistics,

University of Arizona

I strongly support this petition. Strong programs in the mathematical sciences are essential to progress.

David Booth, PhD

Professor of Statistics

M&IS Dept.

Kent State University

I endorse this petition. It is barely conceivable that USQ can be so short-sighted.

Mathematics and statistics are the underpinning of all the sciences, technology, finance and commerce, and are increasingly in demand to provide rigorous evidence-based decision making in medicine, government, industry and environmental regulation. It cannot be emphasised too strongly that it is totally inadequate to provide people with calculators, statistical software and a cookery-class in using them. Mathematics and statistics are academic disciplines in their own right. I have spent my lifetime learning to do better statistics, and I am still learning. I’m not an engineer, I don’t have the training, I respect the skills that professional engineers have, and I wouldn’t try to build a bridge even if you gave me “Microsoft Bridge Builder.” So why can’t university administrators and others respect and foster the hard-won skills of professional mathematicians and statisticians?

I call upon the Australian government and the administrators of USQ to reverse the dreadful decline in the training of mathematicians and statisticians in their country. Other nations are facing similar difficulties, and are trying to solve them. USQ seems instead to prefer to bury its head in the sand and wait for the tide to erase all trace of these disciplines as serious subjects of study. Shame on them!

Tony O’Hagan

Professor of Statistics

The University of Sheffield

UK

The plans for USQ are very short sighted. High quality statistics and mathematics are imperative for every educational institution.

J. S. Marron

Amos Hawley Distinguished Professor of Statistics

University of North Carolina

I strongly support this petition for saving mathematics and statistics at USQ. It seems that the proposed budget cuts will severely damage the quality of studies in maths, stats and computing science, which is of course completely unacceptable.

Professor Ingrid Van Keilegom

Institute of Statistics

Université catholique de Louvain

Belgium

I strongly support this petition.

Professor Guy Nason

Professor of Statistics

Head of Statistics Group

University of Bristol, UK.

I strongly support this petition

Research in mathematics and statistics are essential not only for maintaining good quality service teaching but also for supporting and enriching research in other scientific and social areas carried out at USQ.

Peter Baker

Statistician

I also strongly support the petition. It is shameful that a university worthy of the name plans to have no maths or statistics department training specialist mathematicians and statisticians. It speaks volumes about the university management that they even should consider such a retrograde step. It indicates to me a failure to comprehend the meaning of the word University, a failure to appreciate the nature of scientific education and mathematical literacy, and an abdication of responsibility to future generations of students. Universities, as the custodians, developers, and interpreters of human knowledge, have a responsibility to take every possible action to fulfill their custodianship, in the interests of a prosperous future for the nation. For the university administrators to so abjectly repudiate their responsibilities in this way bodes ill for the country, and serves as a dire appraisal of Australian higher education policy over the last decades.

Rob Reeves

Lecturer in Statistics

Queensland University of Technology

— From computer science, physics, biology, engineering, and economics —

As an Australian computer scientist with a university medal in mathematical statistics, I strongly support this petition.

Dr Peter McBurney

Department of Computer Science

University of Liverpool

UK

I strongly support this petition. Degrading eduation of maths, statistics and computing also effects many other professional programs like Engineering.

Graham Woods

Head of Electrical & Computer Engineering

James Cook University

The comments already posted show exactly what I expected – that Australian mathematicians, statisticians and physicists are respected and sought after all over the world. After graduation, the majority of my physics and maths friends took up positions overseas, because our departments were already so small and underfunded, and overseas offers were so lucrative. Why is it that foreign countries value our education more than Australia does?

I shudder to think of a future where all Government policy is decided upon by graduates who took a ’service course’ in statistics. I’ve seen these service courses – I’ve tutored them – and they achieve little more than to give their students a false sense of security about the data they attempt to interpret.

I am blessed to work in a private organisation with a group of talented mathematicians and statisticians who are full of ideas and always looking for new approaches to solve problems. I previously worked in a multidisciplinary research group focussing on human motor control. We outshone other groups in our department – because of the physical scientists.

Maths and stats are crucial to the development of scientific research in any institution. And all research (yes, including arts and humanities) should be scientific. If USQ administration wants to close down its maths and computing department, it may as well close the entire university.

Don’t let this happen.

Tamyka Bell

BSc (Hons I) (Physics) 2001

University of Queensland

I strongly support this petition. Don’t lower the standards and reputation of USQ by destroying it’s mathematics and science departments. It would be a damaging and irreversible mistake.

R.Robinson

BEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering

University of Birmingham

United Kingdom

I consider the proposed cuts to be deplorable.

The USQ department is especially strong in applied

mathematics, with proven high economic value.

Australia is one of the wealthiest countries

in the world and an educated citizenry is its

greatest asset. Surely the politicians must

realize that!Dr. Len Schwartz

Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Mathematical Sciences

University of Delaware

USA

From the perspective of an econometrician, I am deeply disappointed in both the direction and the magnitude of the proposed changes. In a world where data and processing power are growing exponentially, the need for deep comprehension of how these data might be understood grows, rather than diminishes.

I have twice visited the School of Mathematical Sciences at ANU and have benefitted greatly through the association. Indeed, the impact of Australian statistics on econometrics has been enormous.

Adonis Yatchew

Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies

University of Toronto

Editor-in-Chief, The Energy Journal

I urge USQ management to find an alternative solution that will ensure the continuing success of the scientific and engineering research and teaching at USQ.

Jorgen Frederiksen, FAA

Chief Research Scientist

CSIRO

I endorse the petition.

Somenath Biswas

Professor, Dept. of Computer Sc. and Engg.

IIT Kanpur

Emma Hunt

Visiting Lecturer

School of Economics

University of AdelaideI strongly support this petition and urge the USQ administration to reconsider its position.

Naturally I support the petition having obtained a first in mathematics and a Ph.D. in statistics. Taking a wider view it could be proposed that India and China can produce plenty of good mathematicians and statisticians between them (and have done so in the past) who could fill many of the needs of Queensland for school teaching.

However, there is an enormous need for applied mathematicians and statisticians in a growing number of fields including meteorology, oceanography, finance, engineering, and control theory as well as all aspects of economics, politics and even sociology. I believe experience shows that home-produced mathematicians are generally superior in these fields which are of increasing importance.

Professor Emeritus, Nobel Laureate – 2003 Prize for Economics

— From the arts and life sciences —

I do strongly support the petition.

DongChoon (Daniel) SIN

PhD Candidate – Artificial Heart Project

Medical Engineering Representative on the BEE Student

Medical Device Domain

Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation

Queensland University of Technology

Mathematics is the key behind every advancement in science and technology. The decision taken by the university is short-sighted.

M B Rao

Center for Genome Information

University of Cincinnati

We recently advertised a bioinformatics position for which none of the 36 applicants had the required statistical experience. If USQ’s proposed changes were implemented and repeated by other universities such an example would become widespread to the detriment of Australian research and the community.

Justin Scott

Biostatistican

Queensland Institute of Medical Research

I fully support this petition. Australia needs more, not fewer, people who are mathematically trained, if it is to become a smarter country. And that starts with having maths teachers who have a solid university education in mathematics. I don’t see how USQ will be able to attract future staff if they are only allowed to teach services courses. I urge the administration of USQ to reconsider this short-sighted decision.

Judy Simpson

Professor of Biostatistics

University of Sydney

I strongly support this petition. It is hard to imagine how any serious university could propose to close down its mathematics department, which is what USQ is effectively doing. Graduates with high-level mathematics and statistics expertise are essential to support research across the whole range of the sciences.

Dr Gordon Smyth

WEHI Senior Research Fellow

Bioinformatics Division

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

I fully support this petition. Mathematics teaches invaluable skills in logical thinking and reasoning, which are invaluable to any discipline and profession.

Yiying (Sally) Zhao

Final year medical student, University of Melbourne

Member of the Australian IMO (International Mathematical Olympiad) Team, 2001-2002

Maths is one of the foundations of all learning and achievement. As someone who works in the music industry, I am constantly surprised at the close relationship between maths and music, with many of our most talented composers having a strong maths background at a tertiary level.

I urge the university administration to reconsider this decision as a “dumbing down” of universities and insufficent funding for a core subject such as maths, ultimately has a detrimental impact on the whole community.

Jo Smith

Executive Director

Australian Guild of Screen Composers

— From industry —

What is happening at USQ is the tip of the iceberg for mathematics in Australia. The cutbacks and the subsequent lack of good graduates in the mathematical sciences are already a constraint on business where the unique skills of properly trained mathematicians are needed. I see it as the biggest single constraint on my company’s future and I see it in many others, particularly in the biomedical and mining areas.

I support the petition

Dr John Henstridge

Managing Director

Data Analysis Australia[See also Henstridge’s 2006 article “If Math Matters, Why Don’t We See More of It?” for the Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society – Ed.]

Having focused my studies and ongoing career in the computing industry, it astounds me to learn of the narrow-minded intent to cull funding from the University of Southern Queensland’s Department of Mathematics and Computing budget. As an IT Manager, I see the first hand the result of a “university education” today and it far from inspires me as to what our future graduates will contribute to Australia’s (or, the world’s) computing industry.

The idea of “the clever country” has been delivered nothing more than lip service from successive Federal/State governments. Talk is cheap and what has been delivered appears to have been cheaper. Focus seems to have shifted through a knee-jerk reaction away from educating and challenging our populous, to blinding “working families” to believe they should not fight for knowledge, just ship the problem to resources off-shore.

Do not accept that there are other people in the world should be the innovators of the future! Knowledge knows no bounds, and should not be constrained to any.

I offer my support to this petition and hope that Australia’s future innovation is not stifled any further.

Brad Moroney

IT Manager

CPI Group Ltd

I strongly support this petition.

We already have a severe skill shortage in quantitative and statistical thinking. Australia needs – and undergraduate and graduate USQ students need – to have the best possible teaching and learning so that these skills can be boosted.

Michael Adena, PhD AStat MACS

Director, Statistical Consultancy

Covance Pty Ltd

Canberra

One of the most topical vocational areas in the world’s

economy at the moment is that of Risk Management. We saw

the difficulty that global financial institutions have had

with managing the credit risks taken on-board, and are now

in need of qualified risk managers and analysts to be able

to measure and control such risks. This will be the area of

most demand in the financial world in coming years.One of the arguments made for only offering standard

mathematics and statistics courses, taught from standard

texts, is based on the merits of a vocational focus.

If Australian universities want to attract the students who

asipre to get positions of responsibility in this area of

finance, or other analytical posts in the financial world,

then they need (1) a quality foundation in mathematics,

statistics and computer science, and (2) an education that

provides the training in logical and systematic thinking

that comes from an education in these areas.Students leaving high school do not have the experience to

know what they need to learn to be able to succeed in these

areas, which are attractive to them. I can tell you that a

mathematics and statistics education is essential to enter

this area, and merit is determined based on the quality of

research done by the student at an honours or post-graduate

level. I can say this as a risk manager at the AXA group,

which is the world’s #1 financial institution in funds under

management and one of only two European insurers to be rated

excellent by S&P in risk management.You can interpret by this that there are some courses at

university that provide candidates with a rudimentary level

that comes from courses taught as if in secondary school.

The courses that provide sufficient education to be

considered in this field are the same that provide entry into

academic research.If the USQ wants to cut research staff in mathematics and

statistics who offer non-service courses, they will prevent

their graduates from being able to enter the vocations in

highest demand in the global market. I therefore support the

text outlined in the petition above.William James

I too strongly support this petition.

Without research in pure mathematics itself, there can be no

real understanding transmitted to people who go on to apply it in other areas.Math has been at the central core of all scientific progress…

Without math at its core the science program at any university would wither and die. You need the conversations between the abstract theoretical purists and the applied scientists/technologists to move forward – in science, medicine, economics, computer science.It directly underlies the economic advancement …

all countries where there is an active market are crying out for

quantitative skills. Even in computer programming in less mathematical areas, service lectures in supporting maths need to be informed by people who have participated in pure math research – it _does_ rub off and make a practical difference to the quality of that service teaching – you cant divorce it from research.Kudos to the math community for speaking out and protecting our freedom to think freely as a nation.

Gordon Anderson

Software Architect

Bangkok/Melbourne

I strongly support this petition. Thanks Terry for bringing this to our attention.

Dipankar Ray

RSDE

Live Labs Research, Microsoft

Bellevue WA

I too wholeheartedly support this petition (great work Terry). I do hope the USQ administrators reconsider.

I feel I had a terrific undergraduate mathematics education in Melbourne, taught by strong mathematicians whose talent inspired me. I thrived in that challenging environment, along with similarly motivated individuals who have already commented here. That mathematical background was largely called upon for my Electrical Engineering PhD at Caltech, and serves me well today as a wireless communications research engineer.

With our world increasingly reliant on technology that has mathematics at its core, it is essential that universities continue to support their teaching and research programs in this area. I do not want to see the next generation of Australians miss out on the increased appreciation of our world that a strong mathematics education brings, not to mention the opportunity to contribute globally in Science and Technology.

Chaitanya Rao

NEC Australia

It is vital that all Universities retain strength in the fundamental disciplines. I strongly support this petition.

Andrew Jenkins

Head of Credit Derivatives Quantitative Development

The Royal Bank of Scotland

— USQ community —

I regard myself as an external stakeholder of USQ as I rely on the statistics staff of USQ to host and support the Australian Schools Statistics Poster competition. This is a very valuable outreach activity to promote not just statistics as the name implies, but in fact a whole range of experimental, medical and social sciences that use statistical ideas. This is important, because our society and its future require evidence-based decision-making in all fields, and statistically-based thinking is crucial in the promotion of the concepts of evidence-based decision-making.

Universities, like other organisations, do need to retain flexibility and also need to plan their futures. I believe, however, that the draft plan that has been drawn up for USQ fails to take proper account of the existing strengths and assets of USQ in the area of mathematics and statistics, and the opportunity that USQ has, to support and build on its successes in those areas. It seems instead to be informed by ad-hockery, not a clear vision. One area where USQ could steal a march on other universities, is by backing the team that they have, and giving support to degree programs that really are practical and useful, including substantial and structured content in mathematics and statistics. I urge the decision-makers at USQ to critically examine the draft in this light.

D.G. Fitzgerald

I support this petition. I am a school student who the department has helped through its programmes to educate those who hope one day to join the mathematics community.

I support this because I am thankful for what the department has given me, because of the undeniable importance of mathematics as the basis for all science and because I want there to be a mathematics community for me and other young people to join, when it is our time.

I thank Professor Tao and so many others for their efforts to “Rage against the dying of the light” in this corner of our world.

I sincerely hope that the decision makers will hear our petition.

Adam Walsh

Student

Tara, Queensland, Australia[Adam is just 10 years old; see also his letters to me from 31 March and 4 April. – Ed.]

As USQ engineering graduate, I have found that my grounding in maths, stats and physical sciences gained there has stood me in excellent stead, both in the professional workforce and in postgraduate study in Australia and abroad. I have no doubt that their problems with declining enrollments would be better addressed through effective marketing, rather than by cutting programmes. I strongly endorse Dr Tao’s petition, and thank him for his support for Australian students.

Chris Eastaugh

University of Joensuu, Finland

I strongly support this petition.

As a member of the USQ community, I find it hard to reconcile this plan to let go of valuable academic staff with the seemingly endless stream of non-academic (mostly IT support) job positions that the university is currently advertising almost every week. This certainly brings up the question of how the university is utilising the revenues directly earned by hard-working academic staff.

The university management’s slogan for this downsizing is “Realising our Potential”. But isn’t a quality mathematics department that has been developed over the years part of the university’s potential? That they may not have great numbers can be largely attributed to failure in marketing. The academics in the mathematics department should not have to bear the brunt of the accumulated effects of the mismanagement of academic programs by decision makers.

Associate Lecturer

Faculty of Business

University of Southern Queensland

I sign this petition and endorse all said above.

I got my start at the DDIAE ( it became USQ) and they taught maths well enough to enable me to kick on at sandstone universities. Many other statisticians profited likewise. As Australia cries out for mathematicians, sources such as USQ are critical.

USQ knows the Federal government’s priorities in rebuilding mathematics for Australia to be competitive in industry, commerce and science. Rejection of that plan is foolhardy.

The optimism for other areas to grow ignores their need to exploit modern mathematics so USQ may be risking those disciplines rather than promoting them.

Bob Murison

School of science & technology

University of New England

I support the petition.

A decision based on sectional/divisional financial analysis overlooks the interconnections between faculties, departments and individuals — now and in the future.

Dr Peter J Phillips

Lecturer in Finance

University of Southern Queensland

I strongly support the wording and the intent of the petition. As a retired academic and a former head of the USQ department in question, I am in a good position to comment further. The department is one of the leaders at USQ in research activity and output. Just as importantly, the department has developed into a position of renowned excellence in teaching of university level mathematics and statistics. This has been backed up by internationally recognised research into the theory and practice of teaching undergraduate students. I well know at first hand that students appreciate the high quality of teaching in mathematics & statistics at USQ, but it is a pity sometimes that the message does not seem to filter through to university decision makers. By cutting back to a small number of service teaching staff in these subject areas, students will suffer, USQ will suffer a decline in standards, and Australian industry and society will suffer at a time when it is becoming obvious to governments and industry that we need, and are getting, more investment in science and mathematics. The irony of the planned cutback is beyond comprehension.

Chris Harman

Retired Associate Professor of Mathematics

Former Head of Department, USQ[See also Harman’s letter to the USQ Vice Chancellor on this issue – Ed.]

As a student at USQ, I will be finishing my honors just before the cuts take place. I am extremely lucky to be finishing this soon.

From a students perspective, the mathematics and statistics academics at USQ have been fantastic, and it is extremely sad to think that there will be no options for students intending to study higher level mathematics while living in Toowoomba.

I support this petition.

Sam Roberts

Student

USQ

Professor Tao. I fully support this petition. As a practicing teacher in a remote location I can only upgrade my knowledge and skills through distance education. I am currently enrolled in a Graduate Diploma in Maths at USQ. The staff in Mathematics, Statistics and Computing there do a magnificent job. What the USQ hierarchy is proposing is at best intellectual vandalism.

Graham Broughton

I spent ten years as the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at USQ trying to preserve and build up Sciences at USQ. Vigorous Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry programs are essential for a Science Faculty to function properly. Mathematics, particiularly, is critcal, from both a University and Australian National perspective. Many areas of study use maths and require the study of it, and academics in these areas argue that the subject is best taught by a professional practioner in the area of study. such as Maths for Accountants or Maths for Engineers. This is nonsense. To teach maths sucessfully the teacher must have both a love of maths and a deep understanding of it. Few members of the professions who use maths have these qualities.

USQ should rearrange its afairs so as to be able to support a vigorous maths program. It is in the University’s interest and the national interest. To do other wise is a derelection of responsibility. I know it will not be easy, really worthwhile things seldom are, but the effort must be made.

Hugh Avey,

Former Dean of Sciences, USQ

I strongly support this petition.

As a USQ student affected by the proposed maths cuts I would also like to thank everyone for their support. I can not see how the proposed science cuts can do any good for current students, future students, staff, our community and our country as a whole. I just hope that these drastic measures are not repeated in other universities of Australia.

We need intelligent, educated people for the survival of our economy.

Thankyou.Briony Carey

USQ Student

Applied Mathematics/Finance

I strongly support this petition for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I am a parent of a high achieving student who attends USQ and whom will be directly affected by these cuts. USQ has always provided quality education, however, without maths and science there will be limited opportunities for high achieving students to remain in the district for tertiary studies. My other daughter may now need to attend University in Brisbane which is much more expensive.

Secondly, as a teacher, I am concerned that education has become mere business rather than a service to the community. Science and mathematics are the building blocks of our society. We need to encourage, not discourage, students in these areas of study. What will be next? The removal of Math C from the secondary curriculum because classes are small?

Margaret Carey

Concerned Parent

Teacher

The Mathematics Department of USQ has supported the Toowoomba Mathematics Teachers Association and the maths departments in the Darling Downs High Schools through mentoring teachers, promoting mathematics and writing questions for the local maths teams challenges. This has helped to provide a bridge for the students between high school and university.

Maths is a part of everyday life and a foundation for most courses at university and life after university. As a teacher at a high school and a parent of three successful students of maths/engineering at USQ, I wish to support this petition to retain the maths/statistics programmes at USQ.

Joan Pelecanos

I strongly support this petition. As a current graduate of a dual degree in the Department of Maths and Computing at USQ I am disgusted at the actions of the university. Without this department I would not be employed and would not have received the excellent education which I draw upon everyday.

Why, at a time when the federal government is trying to encourage the sciences, are universities not increasing their emphasis on science?

This will be a terrible loss for the community, Queensland and Australia.

For me personally, this will be the end of a legacy since both my parents also received maths degrees from this department.

Cameron Roberts

Current Graduate B.Sci. (App Maths)/B.IT. (Maths & Computing)

It is sad to see mathematics and statistics positions under threat at USQ. These staff members are amongst the hardest working at the university, they are excellent teachers, they are innovators, they are internationally recognized researchers, they are free consultants across the university, they support others where they can, and they are valued colleagues and friends. They don’t blow their own trumpets, which perhaps is what has led to this situation. They are there when needed. But not for much longer. They are mathematicians and statisticians – and this country hasn’t got an oversupply of them. Hold on to them! Don’t lose their expertise.

It is sad to see the mathematics and statistics major under threat at USQ. Who will our local Toowoomba maths teachers be in the future? Education graduates with just enough maths to master the high school curriculum? To be outsmarted quickly by bright students? To be humiliated as they reach the limits of their knowledge? History teachers who are told to teach mathematics, because all students need to learn is how to write essays about famous mathematicians? The latter sadly is a true example. Why would a mathematics teacher graduate from a metropolitan Queensland university move to Toowoomba to teach mathematics, if there are plenty of positions in Brisbane?

It is sad to see an extremely talented young mathematician lose his university. He is only ten, and rightly worried about his options. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if USQ could claim to have discovered and educated the next Fields Medalist?

What about the isolated student who will no longer benefit from studying maths through USQ’s award winning distance program? What about the full time worker, who has to support a family but also wants to become a mathematician and can only do so through part time distance study? These students will have to enroll in other Australian states. What happened to Queensland – Smart State? Not so smart.

USQ is just one example, and the most recent one. As editor of the AustMS Gazette, I receive news from Australian maths departments on staff appointments and resignations. While these figures are incomplete, the number of resignations/retirements/redundancies of reporting departments has clearly outweighed the new appointments in the last 18 months and the number of maths academics is shrinking fast. To top this off, within the next few years, a large number of mathematics academics will retire, leaving behind a hole that will be difficult to fill. Of course, we can always import from other countries. This is easier than fixing a domestic problem. But at what cost.

Birgit Loch, Dipl.-Math., PhD

Editor of the AustMS Gazette

Mathematician in exile (lecturer in computing)

Department of Mathematics and Computing

University of Southern Queensland

As a recent Mathematics graduate from USQ, I endorse this petition.

Without the support of the USQ Maths and Computing faculty staff, I would not be in position I am today, both professionally and personally.

To even contemplate taking such an action is to steal opportunity away from the people of South East Qld. I offer my thoughts and support to all those staff and students affected by this incertain times.

Ross Gundry

B.Sci – Applied Mathematics

University of Southern Queensland

(2005)

If mathematics and statistics are reduced to a token profile at USQ, student opportunity, faculty staff and the university’s reputation will all suffer a diminution. The resonance this issue has created around the world is testament to its importance. This petition has united the voices of many in support of mathematicss and statistics in a manner that USQ management could only wish to focus on the university generally.

Hopefully reason will prevail and our expressions count.

Ray Hingst

Lecturer

Faculty of Business

University of Southern Queensland

I strongly support this petition.

Narelle Beaumont

Lecturer in Tourism

Faculty of Business

University of Southern Queensland

## 3 comments

Comments feed for this article

15 May, 2008 at 3:53 pm

An update on mathematics, statistics, and computing at USQ « Mathematics in Australia[…] parents, and other members of the USQ community; a selected sample of such comments can be found here and here. (The entire petition was presented to the USQ administration on 14 April.) The local […]

18 November, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Paul SivilottiI hope this petition prevails as Math and Science remain critical to the success of all forward-thinking countries. And yet, keeping these fields at the forefront remains a challenge in many leading nations.

14 December, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Harvard UniversityIn the end, a country’s level of innovation will be proportionate to its investment in people, and their understanding and application of these critical subject areas.