### Please support the Department of Mathematics and Computing at the University of Southern Queensland, in the face of deep cuts.

— The crisis —

On 17 March 2008, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) at Toowoomba announced proposals to cut staff at the Department of Mathematics and Computing (which consists of the disciplines of mathematics, statistics, and computing) by almost 50%, eliminate all non-service teaching classes from the mathematics curriculum, and also eliminate the mathematics, statistics, physics, and chemistry majors at USQ. This proposal, which is part of a rationalisation program entitled “Realising our Potential“, is in direct opposition to the federal government’s explicit support for the importance of such enabling sciences, and is in direct opposition to the significant increase in funding for mathematics and statistics approved last year and flowing into USQ this year. (In fact, it appears that this funding has been diverted for other purposes by the university administration.)

The official USQ proposals can be found here, together with a supplementary rationale for these proposals. Key points include:

- Eliminating a net 15 positions from the Faculty of Science (see page 6 of the proposal). By far the largest burden of these cuts falls on the Department of Mathematics and Computing, which is to lose 12 positions from a current faculty of 27, and is even more concentrated in disciplines of mathematics and statistics, where the faculty is being cut from 14 to 6. Three more staff are also being cut in physics and chemistry. In contrast, other divisions of USQ are experiencing significantly less severe cuts (and, in some cases, staff increases).
- Phasing out “low enrolment program streams” (i.e. non-service teaching).
- Discontinuing the undergraduate major program in maths, chemistry, physics, and statistics (see page 13 of the rationale), as well as the postgraduate maths offer. This is despite enrollments in mathematics and statistics holding steady at USQ (computer science enrollments have declined, though).

These cuts not only affect undergraduate education at USQ in the maths and sciences, but will also threaten other programs and initiatives by the Department of Mathematics and Computing and its staff, including

- an existing program to educate high school maths teachers at USQ;
- participation of statistics staff in a global warming grant application by the Centre for Sustainable Catchements at USQ;
- existing joint statistics courses with the University of New England;
- a planned joint distance education program with the University of New England, building upon an earlier Moodle initiative begun by the Department and copied by the rest of USQ;
- running the Australian Statistics Poster Competition for high schools;
- hosting the Simulation and Statistical Research and Consulting Centre;
- existing hosting and support for the ANZIAM Journal (electronic supplement) through the OJS system;
- participation in the ICE-EM access grid network for offering joint honours courses.

The cuts in mathematics and statistics are projected to save about $1.2 million per year. In contrast, the income stream from mathematics and statistics (both from its own majors, and from service teaching to others) is currently about $5.5 million per year (almost all of which is being diverted to other priorities of the administration); this figure includes approximately $1.2 million coming from the recent government initiative to encourage maths and science students. Furthermore, the Department of Mathematics and Computing also brings in significant research money – for instance, almost half of all ARC grants at USQ, in fact, originate from this department. These income streams will be badly affected by the above cuts, with the result that this proposal may in fact cost the university more money than it saves over the long term. Astonishingly, no long-term budgetary analysis of the situation beyond the next fiscal year appears in the proposal or the rationale.

A more detailed case for retaining mathematics at USQ, and a rebuttal of the positions of the administration, can be found at my guest editorial on 9 April 2008 at the Funneled Web. For the most recent updates on the status of the campaign, see this page.

— Revised plan for the Faculty of Sciences —

Since the initial proposal was released, the USQ administration has revised the plan twice, once on 23 April 2008 and once on 1 May 2008. There are some differences between the revised version and the original, though significant parts of the proposal remain largely unchanged:

- In the original plan, there were to be 15 net staff cuts to the Faculty of Sciences, of which the Department of Maths and Computing was to absorb 12. In the most recent revision, new funding has been authorised to add new positions to partially offset these cuts; the Faculty of Sciences will now have 18 staff cuts and 11 new positions (for a net loss of 7 staff), while the Department of Mathematics and Computing will have 11 staff cuts (5 in maths and statistics, 6 in computing) and 2 to 3 new positions focusing on areas such as statistics consultation and training, teacher training, and student consultation. These new positions are described as permanent positions, although the additional funding sources for these positions are not guaranteed.
- Non-service teaching is no longer automatically phased out; however courses that “fail to meet efficiency measures with respect to student enrolments” will have no further intakes, and the offering of higher-level courses is contingent on available staffing (which, in view of the staff cuts, will be highly constrained).
- The mathematics, statistics, physics, and chemistry majors and postgraduate offer are no longer automatically eliminated, but will be subject to a review. However due to items 1. and 2. above, the quality of education in such majors is likely to be severely curtailed. There are conflicting signals from the administration whether the maths major will ultimately be eliminated, or retained in a weakened form. A mathematics education specialisation is also proposed, but it is not clear if there will be enough courses to sustain it (or to even meet minimum state requirements for education, or of USQ’s own requirements for a Bachelor of Education degree).
- As in the original proposal, contributions of staff and departments to research, education, or community outreach were explicitly discounted as factors influencing the proposal, which continues to be driven entirely by “student demand” and “financial exigencies”.
- The federal money in support of maths and statistics education continues to be diverted away from the department of mathematics and computing.
- Because of the proposed staff cuts, courses are to be offered “using a delivery model with a reduced staff workload”. More specifically, it seems that undergraduates are to be hired as tutors and markers; however, this would be in contravention to Queensland Office of Higher Education guidelines that require teaching staff to hold qualifications above that of the degree offered (see Section 2.6.2), as well as with existing USQ guidelines.

The National Tertiary Education Union has raised significant concerns with the first revised proposal, particularly with regard to the reliability of the data that the plan is based on, and has called for a delay in making a final decision on the plan for the Faculty of Sciences until a full independent examination of the Faculty’s actual financial position and of the student load data is conducted (these data are not currently available to the public). It appears that the most recent revision of this proposal does not fully address these concerns.

Further commentary on the revised plan will be placed here in the near future.

— How to help? —

There are several ways in which you can help support mathematics at USQ:

**Contact the USQ administration.**The consultation period for these proposals formally ended on April 14, 2008 (extended from a previous deadline of April 9). However, the proposals have not yet been formally announced in a finalised form. Please express support for mathematics and statistics, and protest these proposals by writing to the following administrators at USQ:- Prof. Janet Verbyla, Dean of Sciences at USQ: deansci@usq.edu.au
- Prof. Rod St. Hill, Dean of Students at USQ: sthill@usq.edu.au
- Prof. Graham Baker, Deputy Vice Chancellor (scholarship) at USQ: bakerg@usq.edu.au
- Prof. Bill Lovegrove, Vice Chancellor and President of USQ: vc@usq.edu.au
- Ms. Bobbie Brazil, Chancellor of USQ: brazilb@usq.edu.au

For some letters that have already been written to these administrators and to the government officials below, please see the “Letters of Support” section below.

**Contact local government representatives.**The university administration will pay particular attention to any pressure from government officials (or to emails that are cc:’ed to such officials), including- Hon. Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education: Julia.Gillard.MP@aph.gov.au
- Hon. Anna Bligh MP, Premier of Queensland: ThePremier@premiers.qld.gov.au
- Hon. Rod Welford MP, State Minister for Education and Training: educationandarts@ministerial.qld.gov.au
- Hon. Mike Horan MP, State Member for Toowomba South: toowomba.south@parliament.qld.gov.au
- Hon. Kerry Shine MP, Attorney General and State Member for Toowomba North: toowomba.north@parliament.qld.gov.au
- Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP, Federal Member for Groom: Ian.Macfarlane.MP@aph.gov.au

**Sign the online petition.**This will visibly demonstrate the depth of support for mathematics education to USQ administrators, journalists, government officials, and others, and may also encourage others who may be impacted by these cuts and are fearful of the outcome to come forward.**Share your stories.**Have you experienced the effects of cutbacks in mathematics and science at other schools? As a researcher in the sciences or in related fields such as engineering, can you testify to the value of a mathematics education, taught by mathematicians? Do you have first-hand knowledge of the situation at USQ? Please share your thoughts by commenting to this page.**Send us news and information.**Any first-hand information from USQ, for instance from students, is particularly valuable, as are any media reports not already on this page, or background information on the situation. Also, any corrections or other comments are also greatly appreciated. You can send this information by email or as a comment to this page.**Stay in touch.**We will be updating this page regularly with new developments, and of course the commentary to the online petition is growing rapidly (and is well worth reading). Check back from time to time to see how we’re doing. See also the new blog “Mathematics in Australia” for recent news and developments.**Spread the word.**We need to raise awareness of this issue quickly. If you know anyone who is supportive of mathematics and the sciences and may be able to help out in one of the above ways, please consider forwarding them a link to this page to them. Australian or not, mathematician, scientist, student, journalist, politician, administrator, or layman – anyone can contribute to this effort. (Actually, in many ways, spreading the word to*non*-mathematicians with a stake in this effort, such as scientists, engineers, and workers in industry, not to mention students and teachers, may be particularly useful.) It is particularly critical to inform USQ students of what is happening, as the administration has largely excluded them from the consultation process.

— Media coverage —

- “Maths funding just doesn’t count“, Guy Healy, The Australian, February 20 2008.
- “Universities maths’ departments suffer cutbacks“, Annie Guest, ABC Radio, March 19 2008. (Also available in Real Audio, Windows Media, and MP3.)
- “Funding doesn’t add up“, Brendan O’Keefe, The Australian, March 26 2008.
- “Time is counting against us“, Peter Hall, The Australian, March 26 2008.
- “New plan leaves uni students in limbo“, Elizabeth Pullen, The Chronicle, 4 April 2008.
- “Maths still out for the count“, Caroline Milburn, The Age, 7 April 2008.
- “Fields Medallist calls on colleagues world over to petition against large staff reductions in maths/stats and computing at Australia’s USQ“, The Funneled Web, 7 April 2008.
- “Maths whiz to fight uni cuts“, Brendan O’Keefe, The Australian, 8 April 2008.
- “AMSI’s executive officer tells it like it is“, The Funneled Web, 8 April 2008.
- “USQ cuts don’t add up for mathematics prodigy, 10“, Merryl Miller, Toowoomba Chronicle, 8 April 2008. (Reprinted with permission.)
- “Adam chases maths dream”, Steve Etwell, editorial, Toowoomba Chronicle, 8 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- “Mathematics in today’s world“, Terence Tao, guest editorial, The Funneled Web, 9 April 2008. Reprinted in the Toowoomba Chronicle, 15 April 2008.
- “Time for Gen Y to take heads out of sand“, Merryl Miller, Toowoomba Chronicle, 10 April 2008. (Reprinted with permission.)
- “Staff subtraction a prime problem for maths prodigy”, David Eardley, Courier Mail, 15 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- “Job cuts don’t add up, claim USQ staff“, Brendan O’Keefe, The Australian, 16 April 2008.
- “Concerns ‘not answered’: USQ management meets with staff over draft restructuring plan”, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 16 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- “It actually adds up: Mathematics has sum value on modern society”, Peter Swannell, Toowoomba Chronicle, 16 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.) [Note: Peter Swannell is a former Vice-Chancellor at USQ.]
- “Numbers don’t stack up: Professor claims full picture not revealed”, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 17 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- “Revised plan reduces staff cuts by one job“, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 24 April 2008.
- “President of the International Mathematical Union Joins in Plea for USQ to Rethink Decision to Sack 12 Maths, Stats and CT Academics“, The Funneled Web, 29 April 2008.
- “USQ changes mind on maths major cull“, Bernard Lane, The Australian, 7 May 2008.
- “USQ Reported to Reduce Job Cuts in Math/Stats/CT by Three“, The Funneled Web, 7 May 2008.
- “Lost opportunities sadden maths whiz“, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 22 May 2008. (Used with permission.)

— Letters of support —

- On 28 October, 2007, the President of the Statistical Society of Australia Inc., William Dunsmuir, wrote a letter to the USQ Vice Chancellor and President, Bill Lovegrove, over concerns about media reports of redundancies in statistics at USQ. (Used with permission.)
- On 5 March 2008, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Brenda Dietrich, and Iain Johnstone, who participated in an international review of the mathematical sciences in Australia, wrote a joint letter condemning the diversion of government funding intended for mathematics and the sciences away from these schools.
- The president of the Australian Mathematical Society, Peter Hall, highlights the situation at USQ in his bimonthly column in the May 2008 issue of the Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society.
- The Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, Phillip Broadbridge, writes on the situation at USQ and its impact on its distance education programs with UNE in his May 2008 column in the Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society.
- Peter Hall, President of the Australian Mathematics Society, wrote to the USQ Chancellor on 27 October 2007 and to Queensland Chief Scientist on 30 October 2007 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Ross Darnell, President of the Queensland Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia Inc., wrote to the Queensland Chief Scientist on 27 March 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Adam Walsh, a 10-year old student taking maths classes at USQ, wrote to Terence Tao on 31 March 2008, and again on 4 April 2008, to express his concerns. (Used with the explicit permission and encouragement of both Adam and his father.)
- The Toowoomba and District Mathematics Teachers Association wrote to the USQ administration on 31 March 2008 to express its concerns. (Used with permission.) A version of this letter also appeared in the Toowoomba Chronicle on 23 April 2008.
- Danny Calegari, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Caltech University, wrote to the USQ Vice-Chancellor on 7 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- John Miller, Emeritus Professor at Monash University, wrote to the Queensland Premier on 8 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- David Stewart, Deputy Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies in mathematics at the University of Iowa, wrote to the USQ Dean of Sciences on 9 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Chris Harman, former Head of the Department of Mathematics and Sciences at USQ, wrote to the USQ Vice-Chancellor on 9 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Joseph Neisendorfer, former Chair of Mathematics at Rochester (which had faced a similar crisis in 1996), wrote to the USQ Chancellor on 10 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Deborah Hughes Hallett, Professor of Mathematics at Arizona and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, wrote to the USQ administration on 10 April 2008 to express her concerns. (Used with permission.)
- The Queensland Association of Mathematical Teachers stated their position on this issue on 14 April 2008. (Used with permission.)
- John Coates, Sadleirian Professor of Pure Mathematics at Cambridge University, wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister on 14 April 2008 to express his concerns. (Used with permission.)
- Here are some selected signatures from the mathematical community from the online petition, and here are some further selected signatures from statistics, computer science, engineering, economics, the life sciences, industry, and the USQ community.
- On 14 April 2008, the online petition was formally presented to the USQ administration and to local government officials.
- “USQ forgets wider community”, Letters to the Editor, Toowoomba Chronicle, 17 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- László Lovász, President of the International Mathematical Union, wrote to the Vice Chancellor on 25 April 2008 to express his concerns.
- The USQ branch of the National Tertiary Education Union formally submitted a response on the revised Draft Implementation Plan on 28 April 2008.

— Blog support —

- “Please help support mathematics at the University of Southern Queensland”, What’s new, 5 April 2008
- “Important Petition“, Rigorous trivialities, 6 April 2008
- “Compressed Sensing: Stability Results for Random Sampling of Sparse Trigonometric Polynomials, Please help support USQ math department“, Nuit-blanche, 6 April 2008
- “Petition to support maths, statistics, and computing at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ)“, Vishal Lama’s blog, 6 April 2008
- “Maths in Australia“, From Monash to the BMS, 6 April 2008
- “Petição: Petition to support maths, statistics, and computing at USQ by Terence Tao, problemas | teoremas, 7 April 2008
- “A Petition to Help Support Maths at USQ“, Louis Yang Liu, 7 April 2008
- “Petition to support maths, statistics, and computing at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ)“, Mathematics under the microscope, 7 April 2008
- “Mathematics under Siege“, An Australian in America, 7 April 2008
- “A math department in danger“, Quomodocumque, 7 April 2008
- “Some very unfortunate happenings at an Australian university“, Women and Mathematics EMS committee, 8 April 2008
- “Petition to save USQ mathematics“, The n-Category Café, 9 April 2008
- “我的大学，undergraduate教育及其他“, Liuxiaochuan’s weblog, 10 April 2008
- “Idiots at the wheel“, Arrogant Alien, 28 April 2008
- “An update on mathematics, statistics, and computing at USQ“, Mathematics in Australia, 16 May 2008.
- “Local events, Turan’s problem, and limits of graphs and hypergraphs“, Gil Kalai’s blog, 20 May 2008.

— Government support for mathematics and science education —

- “Increased funding and flexibility for universities“, media release, Hon. Julie Bishop(previous minister for Education, Science, and Training), 8 May 2007.
- Unfortunately, most of this increase was not actually passed on to the intended disciplines, as the following Mathematical Sciences Questionnaire Report by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute indicates.

- “Enhancing the quality of the experiences of post-docs and early career researchers“, speech, Senator the Hon. Kim Carr (Minister for Science, Innovation, and Research), 14 Feb 2008.
- “Early maths experiences key to future participation“, media release, Hon. Julia Gillard (minister for Education, and deputy prime minister), 8 April 2008.
- A speech in the Queensland Parliament by Hon. Mike Horan MP, member for Toowoomba South, on 17 April 2008 urging the University of Southern Queensland to reconsider the draft proposal to cut back its mathematics and statistics program. (The official transcript of the day’s session of Parliament is available here.)
- An interview from 22 April 2008 with Hon. Mike Horan MP (and Chancellor Lovegrove) by ABC Radio Queensland on the USQ mathematics cuts.
- A press release from the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s science, engineering, and innovation council on 23 April 2008.

— State of mathematics/statistics in Australia —

- “The Sum and Product of Our Difficulties: Challenges Facing the Mathematical Sciences in Australian Universities“, Peter Hall, Australian Mathematical Society Gazette, March 2004.
- “Australian mathematics no longer counts“, Peter Hall, Australasian Science, July 2004.
- “Statistics at Australian Universities“, Statistical Society of Australia Inc., December 2005.
- “Maths teaching fails to add up to standard“, Justine Ferrari, The Australian, 16 January 2007
- “20 years to fix science“, Justine Ferrari, The Australian, 17 January 2007
- “Do the maths: neglect plus shortages equals crisis“, editorial, The Age, 9 February 2007
- “Numbers people don’t stack up“, William Dunsmuir, The Australian, 28 February 2007
- “Employers warn on VCE maths drop-off“, Chee Chee Leung, 12 March 2007
- “Go figure!“, Elisabeth Tarica, The Age, 14 May 2007
- “Mathematics and Statistics: critical skills for Australia’s future“. The national strategic review for mathematical sciences research in Australia, December 2006. (A summary version is available here.)
- “Public Support for Science and Innovation“, Productivity Commission Research Report Overview, 9 March 2007. Submitted to the Productivity Commission by the Australian Mathematical Society.
- “Year 12 Students and Higher Mathematics: Emerging Issues“, Mohan Chinnappan, Stephen Dinham, Anthony Herrington, Dale Scott, Australian Association for Research in Education conference 2007. A summary of this study by ACER eNews is available here.
- “Professor warns of science skills shortage“, ABC news radio, 8 January 2008
- “Maths courses a minus: Gillard“, Patricia Karvelas, 9 April 2008
- “Back to the future“, Jan de Gier, Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society, May 2008.
- “Excitement part of the equation”, Jane Watson, The Australian, 16 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- An initial submission (short version) to the innovation review by the National Committee for the Mathematical Sciences, 21 Apr 2008.
- An initial submission (preliminary version) to the higher education review by the National Committee for the Mathematical Sciences, 21 Apr 2008.
- The National Committee for the Mathematical Sciences has a mathematics document web page from 2003, with various documents and links relating to mathematics in Australia.
- “Add it up: maths is hot stuff“, Erica Cervini, The Australian Financial Review, 5 May 2008.
- For further links see the web pages on maths in the media, as well as various studies, maintained at Mathematics In Australia.

— Research and teaching excellence —

The department of mathematics and computing at USQ has a strong record of excellence in both teaching and research, as evidenced by

- Numerous teaching awards within USQ, for instance in 2008 alone being awarded
- one USQ Excellence in Teaching award (out of two awarded);
- two USQ Teaching and Learning fellowships (out of four awarded);
- one USQ citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning;
- one Faculty of Science Excellence in Teaching award; and
- one Faculty of Science Excellence in Teaching award (early career).

- Of the nine ARC research grants currently awarded to USQ, four of them involve staff at the Department of Mathematics and Computing.
- Six of the seven niche research centres at USQ involve staff at the Department of Mathematics and Computing.
- A list of all mathematics research papers published with at least USQ staff member as author (from MathSciNet)
- The USQ maths department encourages its students to enter the International Mathematical Contest in Modeling, having earned two meritorious awards and four honourable mentions from the 8 teams it has entered since 1997, including two honourable mentions this year.

— USQ administration positions —

- The original draft proposal to “rationalise” various departments at USQ, and particularly the department of maths and computing, as part of the USQ initiative entitled “Realising our Potential“. This proposal has been revised twice, once on 23 April 2008 and once on 1 May 2008.
- The supplementary rationale for this proposal, by the USQ Dean of Sciences, Janet Verbyla. This rational has not been revised.
- A January 2008 media release involving the incoming USQ Dean of Sciences, Janet Verbyla, focusing on the importance of attracting students to the sciences.
- ABC Radio interview with USQ Deputy Vice Chancellor (Scholarship) Graham Baker. (Transcript courtesy of ABC Southern Queensland.)
- “USQ responds to criticism”, Alyssa Kimlin, Toowoomba Chronicle, 12 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- Letter to the editor, Chancellor Bobbie Brazil, Toowoomba Chronicle, 12 April 2008. (No online link currently available, sorry.)
- An interview from 22 April 2008 with Chancellor Lovegrove (and Hon. Mike Horan MP) by ABC Radio Queensland on the USQ mathematics cuts.

— Other aspects of ROP —

Besides the impact of the USQ “Realising our Potential” (ROP) proposal on mathematics and related disciplines, there has also been some coverage of the impact on other parts of the university:

- “Job losses expected at USQ“, Elizabeth Pullen, Toowoomba Chronicle, 27 November 2007.
- “USQ to cut degrees, staff positions“, ABC news, 27 November 2007.
- “Uni axes 130 jobs“, Elizabeth Pullen, Toowoomba Chronicle, 28 November 2007.
- “Unknown staff, course cuts due to uni campus closure“, ABC news, 28 Nov 2007.
- “University of Southern Queensland to axe 130 jobs“, James O’Loan, The Courier-Mail, 28 November 2007.
- “Overseas uni student formula ‘not working’“, ABC news, 3 Dec 2007.
- “More staff may lose jobs as uni cuts degrees”, ABC news, 18 March 2008.
- “USQ slashes degree courses“, ABC news, 18 March 2008.
- “Unions deeply concerned with USQ job losses“, Kerryn Anker, Toowoomba Chronicle, 25 March 2008.
- “Sayonara: USQ sacks its curator“, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 19 April 2008.
- The USQ branch of the National Tertiary Education Union has some responses to the “Realising our Potential” initative.
- “USQ claims only four staff sacked“, Lacey Burley, Toowoomba Chronicle, 20 May 2008.
- “Low note: music students no longer singing uni’s praises“, Merryl Miller, Toowoomba Chronicle, 22 May 2008. (Full article available here; used with permission.)

— Miscellaneous —

- The wikipedia sub-entry on this issue at the University of Southern Queensland page.
- A article in the May 1996 issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society on the successful resolution of a similar crisis at the University of Rochester, whose administration had proposed a similar downsizing of the mathematics department there. (See also this March 1996 Notices article before the crisis was resolved.)
- Student enrolment data for USQ in the Faculty of Sciences in 2004-2005, 2006, and 2007, and for the graduate diploma in mathematics and M.Sc. (maths/stats) degrees in 2002-2005 and 2007.
- The University of Southern Queensland has had a past history of excellence, for instance receiving the ICDE Institutional Prize of Excellence in 1999, the Commonwealth Award for Excellence in 1999, and was a joint winner of the University of the Year award in 2000-2001. It also recently reported that USQ had an operating surplus of $10.3 million in 2007, up from $5 million in 2006.
- Careers in Mathematics – an action plan to meet Australia’s skills shortage

— Contact —

This campaign is being coordinated by Peter Hall, Hyam Rubinstein, and Terence Tao, with the active support of many others in the Australian mathematical community.

All inquiries concerning this web page should be directed to Terence Tao, or left as a comment on this page. If you wish to express support for these proposals, please visit the online petition at

https://terrytao.wordpress.com/about/petition-to-support-maths-statistics-and-computing-at-usq/

## 44 comments

Comments feed for this article

5 April, 2008 at 10:25 am

Please help support mathematics at the University of Southern Queensland « What’s new[…] Support USQ maths […]

6 April, 2008 at 2:00 am

Please support Prof Terence Tao’s petition « comme appelé du néant[…] you to Prof Tao’s well-documented blog post. The details of the crisis at USQ can be read here. I strongly and very earnestly urge everyone who comes across this message to support Prof Tao by […]

7 April, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Simon BlombergHere is an article from last year that you can add to the State of Mathematics in Australia section http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21297038-12332,00.html

Best of luck.

Simon.

8 April, 2008 at 10:04 am

Terence TaoDear Simon,

Thanks for the link!

8 April, 2008 at 2:20 pm

AnonymousThis is a real pity — I was already working on my application for their statistics master’s program, but I don’t think I will go through with that, now. The department is bound to suffer.

Off I go, then, writing e-mails to the people mentioned. Hopefully, confronting them with one of the practical results of this plan will make them think again.

—Sietse

Sietse Brouwer

10 April, 2008 at 12:12 am

AI’m glad to see that the (3 faculty member) wine selection program survived the restructuring proposal without a scratch!

10 April, 2008 at 11:35 am

SarahI’m surprised to hear this because normally you hear about schools cutting art and music classes, so this is crazy! Well anyway I’m majoring in art and if something were to happen to any of the classes I need or the teachers I would be very upset. So even though I’m not a science or math major I really hope this situation turns around because education of any kind is extremely important! Good luck!

11 April, 2008 at 10:49 am

Helen Hypatia BaylyMathematics – the Queen of the Sciences (Gauss) – is that one discipline of study essential to all other sciences, worldwide, and to many arts and humanities studies as well.

Mathematics is the key to Australia’s ever becoming a great nation, and to empowering Australians to understand their enviroinment and their/our planet and galaxy.

Human health, medical research, global climate change, food and water supplies, international peace and trade, are only a few of the infinite multitude of topics depending on mathematics studies.

(Anyone at USQ ever noticed the dying of the corals of Great Barrier Reef? It is mathematics that will lead the way in preventing problems that lead to such devastating ocean-temperature/pollution destruction.)

Enlightened leaders and administrators will never permit the ignorami (those proposing reducing USQ’s mathematics – and thus sciences – studies and faculty) to wreck the lives and studies of USQ and its work.

Voices world-wide and Australia-wide can and must keep the Queen of the Sciences alive and well at USQ. Our lives, everywhere, depend upon mathematics, and USQ can mathematically inspire the world – yea, even with mathematics from Toowoomba, Queensland!

11 April, 2008 at 11:28 am

Susan MoodieImagine the world without the benefit of any logical or rational thought! And you want to contribute to this state?

12 April, 2008 at 6:14 am

Helen Hypatia Bayly(continued): re mathematics, the queen of the sciences:

Petition-signers are from all parts of Australia and the world, from all aspects of modern life, education, all disciplines, scholarly pursuits and fields of employment. These signers are universally opposed to the USQ administration’s giant gaffe of a plan – there’s a message there, as mathematics can demonstrate.

Additionally: the absence of any long-term, logical, budgetary analysis of the effects of the plan, suggests that this administration has employed NO mathematics in pondering the future of USQ and Australian education.

Ergo – Mathematics, 1; administration, 0.

Helen Hypatia Bayly, Troy NY.

12 April, 2008 at 6:42 am

Kyrie PeoneWhy waste money on idiotic subjects like Maths ?

We need more nurses and teachers, not silly mathematicians.

12 April, 2008 at 9:05 pm

AnonymousWell if it wasn’t for those silly mathematicians “Kyrie”, the car you drive and the computer you use wouldn’t even exist.

13 April, 2008 at 9:23 am

Vanesa MagarIt is really terrible to see who maths has become so unpopular amongst school children, and to see the level of mathematical skills and mathematical thinking decrease year after year amongst children and undergraduates and employees (and employers) in general. What people do not realise is that whatever path they choose in life, numeracy skills are crucial. They may even find them attractive if we could somehow enthuse people to study maths, or promote lifelong maths learning… thus any mathematician is precious, do not close down departments or cut personnel, regardless of the current popularity!

16 April, 2008 at 4:15 am

Chrs RadfordEven with extra funding and a change of government the philistines and barbarians who often masquerade as university administrators still seem to have the upper hand.

The mild optimism that colleagues still left in Australia were feeling seems to have been unfounded. The exodus of mathematicians and statisticians, particularly our talented younger generation, will continue unabated.

I hope the political fight currently being waged in support of colleagues at USQ does have the desired effect.

The continued emasculation of Australian mathematics cannot continue. Do Australians really want to see the most talented in the next generation living overseas?

Chris Radford (expatriate Australian)

Professor and Head

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Memorial University,

Canada

18 April, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Bill MoranIncreasingly, in the contract math/engineering research work my group does, we are turning to overseas educated research fellows because of the lack of suitably qualified local candidates. Our best PhDs are snapped up by the finance and defence sectors. How will the young people of Southern Queensland and Northern NSW acquire a foothold in the education process leading to employment in this growing market? Market demand for the skills is there – graduates to fill the positions aren’t.

A policy of cuts that flies in the face of Federal Government priorities and funding initiatives, and deprives students in this region of the opportunity to acquire some of the most important skills for their future employment, demands a serious and rapid response from Government at both State and Federal levels. Where is it?

It is important to bear in mind the flow-on effects of this move.

I’ve seen from bitter experience at Flinders, where the current Dean at USQ was involved (though not the leader) in a similar action against Mathematics and the concomitant dumbing down of CS courses in the 1990s, that actions like this result in reduction or removal of mathematics prerequisites for university courses, thus making students in cognate disciplines less qualified for the workplace.

Bill Moran

Research Director,

Melbourne Systems Laboratory

The University of Melbourne

21 April, 2008 at 3:11 am

Ross Darnell“Kyrie” may wish to read about Florence Nightingale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Nightingale

How about the calculation of correct dosage?

“Drug errors are in many instances directly related to either the administration of an incorrect dose or incorrect infusion rate (Gladstone, 1995) caused by calculation errors.”

from “Mapping drug calculation skills in an undergraduate nursing curriculum”.

Nurse Education in Practice , Volume 5 , Issue 4 , Pages 225 – 229

M . Elliott , J . Joyce

The proponents of the proposed cuts at USQ don’t appear to understand the issues either.

I strongly support the petition.

Ross Darnell

3 May, 2008 at 9:00 am

Richard WoodI strongly support the petition.

Rj Wood

(Professor of Mathematics, Dalhousie University, Canada)

6 May, 2008 at 5:15 am

Nils DenckerIt is a very bad mistake if one believes that it is possible to save money by cutting down on math education. I strongly support the petition.

9 May, 2008 at 6:54 am

Mr. PotatoheadQuote:

“ANNIE GUEST: So that funding has been passed on to the Maths and Computing Department at the University of Southern Queensland?

BILL LOVEGROVE: I believe it has, yes.”

Somewhat odd that he doesn’t seem sure. I would have expected him to give a categorical answer. Definitely something that should be looked into and brought into the clear light of day.

11 May, 2008 at 4:40 pm

rbnnActually, I suspect math skills are counterproductive for most people, who have to work in large bureaucratic organizations. Training in math makes it difficult for them to rely on sophistic justifications for actions, and makes it hard for a person to believe what is most expedient for themselves or their superiors. In math, there is a “right answer” that can be elicited through an objective investigatory and analytic process; this isn’t the case in political environments, however, where the perceptions of a person’s co-employees, superiors, even of public relations, must be considered.

13 May, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Anonymous@rbnn:

Actually, it wouldn’t be. You see, Mathematics effectively trains you how to think. With Maths, Physics and Philosophy, taught properly, one has an excellent “bullshit detector.” Though someone with such a detector might find it highly stressful to work in such an environment, since they know how to think, they’ll be able to effectively communicate with those who cannot.

One might also point out that if everyone gets a better Maths education, that since everyone will have it, such problems will be few and far between. Maths isn’t just taught at Universities you know. And having such better thinking people in industry would actually stream-line many processes that suffer from ridiculous emotional thinking.

13 May, 2008 at 7:34 pm

AnonymousMathematics underpins almost all areas in life. It is a big mistake to reduce mathematics at any University

Julie Clark Senior Lecturer, Flinders University

14 May, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Chen WeiqiangHi, I am a Mathematics teacher from Singapore with a Masters degree.

After reading this blog, I Strongly agree with Terry and condemn the actions of USQ administrators.

To make such drastic cuts will only escalate

the worsening trend of Mathematics education

in Australia and this might lead into a vicious cycle

where the subsequently unmotivated university lecturers produce

poor,uninspired teachers and poor teachers kill the interest

of their young students, and consequently these young people

shun mathematics and kill off the positions of the university lecturers.

Mathematics is a discipline which is valuable to the community and humankind though its benefits are sometimes not immediately tangible.

We should not only preserve it but also promote it among

our youngsters who nowadays shun the hard sciences and take the easy way out.

Chen Weiqiang, National University of Singapore

15 May, 2008 at 11:55 am

An update on mathematics, statistics, and computing at USQ « Mathematics in Australia[…] Support USQ maths […]

15 May, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Mathematics in Australia « What’s new[…] Support USQ maths […]

19 May, 2008 at 4:01 pm

infiniteinfinityMath is interesting and important in no doubt. But it is a vast pity that math and other “spirit motion” such as theoretical physics,philosophy,art,etc and even experiment are not self-holding, which depend donations. However at the ages of Internet, if all documents of math and other disciplines (especially physics) can be put on internet for free access (open access), all who is indeed interesting with them can study them very well and even do important work independent of teachers and even donations. Copyright of pure knowledge can be broken?

20 May, 2008 at 3:58 am

John NakhoulI support the petition.

John Nakhoul

22 May, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Anonymousabove someone says that Maths teaches you how to think critically… do you not think that the other areas do too? Arts, Teaching, Nursing, etc… they all elicit a sense of ‘non-importance’ when thrown up against a construct like Maths, but we also engage and change the way we see and interact with the world on a large scale. Also, being affiliated closely with the Departments, the Maths department that was regulating the numbers for the ROP miscalculated and presented that 8 students graduated, instead of the 80 that where eligible… there were some major plot holes that they just did not fill in. I’m not saying that it is their fault or that it was deserved, it was not. Maths is very important, but we all need to be responsible for our decisions, which people are quick to blame the University as a whole, rather than those who engineered the problem.

17 June, 2008 at 11:42 am

William BecknerI strongly endorse this petition. All across the world we see today, first-rate

instructional programs in Mathematics, Statistics and Scientific Computation

are essential components to enable a University to provide its students the

educational breadth to achieve successful and satisfying lives in a society

that increasingly depends on technology and requires good quantitative skill.

William Beckner

Montgomery Professor of Mathematics

University of Texas at Austin

17 June, 2008 at 5:50 pm

David TreebyI strongly support this petition.

17 June, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Ray PeckThanks Terry for bringing this disappointing situation to our attention. Will seek support from the Mathematical Association of Victoria and also colleagues here at the Australian Council for Educational Research. It seems USQ is ignoring the dire warnings and recommendations in the report, MATHEMATICS

AND STATISTICS:CRITICAL SKILLS FOR AUSTRALIA’S

FUTURE THE NATIONAL STRATEGIC REVIEW OF

MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES RESEARCH IN AUSTRALIA

DECEMBER 2006, Australian Academy of Science.

The Exec summary can be found at http://www.review.ms.unimelb.edu.au/MSReviewShort.pdf

The Federal and State governments also have a role here of course in regard to policy and funding. Let’s hope Minister Gillard takes note and acts.

18 June, 2008 at 6:01 am

Gary DavisTerry, this is a terrible state of affairs, yet, like Hiam Rubenstein, I can see why universities do it. At the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth we are under continuing pressure from our Dean to place more emphasis on, and resources into, service teaching of lower level mathematics courses. Fortunately, our Dean has recently seen the light and now supports computational mathematics because of its relevance to the University of Massachusetts life sciences initiative. We are lucky this is so. I feel we all need to sell mathematics – its usefulness to all scientific endeavor, its essential interconnectedness – and sell administrators on what constitutes a strong, sound, mathematics education for students in science, engineering and business, as well as mathematics and statistics.

Thanks so much for your excellent efforts.

Gary Davis

Professor

Department of Mathematics

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Senior research Scientist

Robert B. Davis Institute for Learning

Graduate School of Education

Rutgers, New Jersey

18 June, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Donald W. BarnesOf course I support the petition. The University of Southern Queensland is not the only Australian university facing this problem. Reductions often occur less dramatically by the failure to replace staff who leave. This has been going on for a long time, forced by chronic underfunding.

Don Barnes

Formerly Reader in Pure Mathematics

University of Sydney

19 June, 2008 at 11:43 am

Menassie EphremI support the petition. I hope that the university officials think it through and reverse the decision. Thank you for your efforts.

Menassie Ephrem

Assistant Professor,

Coastal Carolina University

23 June, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Philip BrookerHi Terry,

I couldn’t see a link to the following article amongst those above (although the content might be similar to that of the existing links anyway):

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/01/08/2134103.htm

Philip

29 June, 2008 at 7:28 am

Terence TaoDear Philip,

Thanks for the link!

Best,

Terry

7 July, 2008 at 9:50 pm

AnonymousThe ignorance of people like “Kyrie” makes my blood boil! To suggest that the pursuit of more mathematicians is “silly” is just incomprehensible to me. It reminds me of that ignoramus Wall Street Journal guy who wrote an article a few years back in which he stated that algebra is now useless since we now have computers!!! People like Kyrie couldn’t be too bright, and in all likelihood it is people like Kyrie who are obviously responsible for this ultimately self-destroying decision by USQ management. Oh yes, they’ll save money in the short term! But what will it do to the country’s future?

26 July, 2008 at 11:24 am

Maths Matters « Mathematics in Australia[…] Support USQ maths […]

11 December, 2008 at 9:53 am

USQ now hiring in mathematics and statistics « Mathematics in Australia[…] Support USQ maths […]

15 December, 2008 at 10:04 am

tonytrainorI support your cause wholeheartedly and also wish to congratulate you on a splended website that makes an area of study most accessible. Your interpretation of WordPress dynamics a la Tarski shows what a great theme it is, lending itself perfectly to a diverse range of subjects with clarity and grace.

http://www.tonytrainor.com/journal

30 May, 2009 at 8:03 am

Clive Granger « Mathematics in Australia[…] Support USQ maths […]

12 July, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Alarming Developments In Tel Aviv University « Combinatorics and more[…] as a role model. (For some critique on the Australian changes, in the context of mathematics, see here.) Proponents of the changes claim that “the public” (who finance a large part of […]

8 October, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Message from AMSI regarding proposed cuts at Victoria University « Mathematics in Australia[…] Support USQ maths […]

4 January, 2011 at 6:56 am

T. HANSEN ET AL.OF COURSE, IT IS REASONABLE TO DISMISS PERSONS WITHOUT NECESSARY APTITUDE FOR THE JOB WHATEVER THE JOB IS.

ADULTS CAN TAKE APTITUDE TESTS TO FIND OUT THEIR OWN STRENGTH AND SPEND THE REST OF THEIR LIFE IN MAKING PROGRESS IN THAT FIELD.

UNLIKE RUSSIAN, AMERICAN, BRITISH, FRENCH, CHINESE AND JAPANESE ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES WE REQUEST THE CANDIDATES TO SIT FOR THE WRITTEN EXAMINATION IN LOGIC.

WE DO NOT HAVE HONORARY MEMBERSHIP FOR POLITICIANS AND STATESPERSON. CONSEQUENTLY WE ARE FREE OF THEIR WEAKNESSES AND SCIENTIC FRAUDASSHOWN BY EINSTEIN, PLANCK, SCHROEDINGER AND HEISENBERG.