Year 9 & 10: Maths Compulsory For University?

Posted on August 16, 2017 by Matrix Education

From 2019 onwards, the University of Sydney has made Maths a prerequisite for entry into 62 of its degrees. This may be the beginning of a broader trend towards making high school Maths compulsory for some university courses. Find out how this change will affect all students in Year 10 and below.

High school Maths to be compulsory for university entry?

Last year, the University of Sydney announced it would make satisfactory performance in 2-Unit HSC Mathematics a compulsory prerequisite for over 60 of its degrees.  From 2019, enrolment into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) degrees would be dependent on performance in Year 12 maths. These courses include:

  • Economics
  • Medical Science
  • Engineering

The University of Sydney’s change to its STEM degree prerequisites has been prompted by the perceived deficiency in the numeracy skills of young Australian graduates and professionals.

  • A recent national report by the Australian Academy of Science suggested that all Year 12 students wanting to enrol in a science, engineering or commerce university degree should be made to study high school Maths.
  • The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute found that the trend away from Maths being a requirement for STEM degree entry has led to fewer high school students taking harder Maths courses, and higher drop-out rates for STEM degrees at university.
  • Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has since announced a 10-year plan to make intermediate Maths (including some calculus) a prerequisite for STEM courses in all Australian universities.

For students currently in Year 10 or below who are interested in studying a STEM undergraduate degree, or a combined degree which includes a STEM component, this may need to be factored into their choice of subjects for Year 11 and 12.

As of 2019, entry into these degrees will required interested students to achieve at least a Band 4 in HSC Mathematics (2 unit), or a similar result in equivalent IB Mathematics subjects.

Click here for a table of the degrees for which University of Sydney has announced a Maths prerequisite.

Year 9 and 10 students: What this means for you

The Mathematics prerequisites will take effect for 2019 entry into University of Sydney degrees. For students currently in Year 11 and 12, the entry requirements for its STEM degrees will remain as they currently are. However students currently in Year 10, who are considering undertaking a STEM degree at the university, may need to factor the announcement into their senior subject choices for next year.

“According to The Sydney Morning Herald, other universities, including UNSW and UTS, are also in the process of considering changes to their STEM degrees in order to address the declining Maths skills of university graduates.”

If other universities were to follow in the footsteps of the University of Sydney in making performance in Maths an entry requirement for their STEM courses, it would not be an unprecedented change. Performance in high school Maths was a prerequisite for many STEM degrees, before the scheme was abandoned in the early 2000s. If other universities also make changes to their STEM degree prerequisites, performance in high school Mathematics could become not only a matter for University of Sydney entry, but also a significant factor to consider when contemplating any STEM degree programs.


1. Bagshaw, E 2016, ‘Sydney University makes Maths compulsory for 62 degrees,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March, viewed 10 April 2016, <>
2. The University of Sydney 2016, Mathematics Course Prerequisites, The University of Sydney, retrieved 10 April 2016, <>
3. Aubusson, K 2016, ‘Push for Year 12 Maths Prerequisites for STEM degrees,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 March 2016, viewed 12 April 2016, <>

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