Maths initiative reaps rewards

August 29, 1997

Nearly two-thirds of students on a new intensive maths course at South Bank University have been offered places on science and technology courses.

The free six-week daytime summer course was aimed at local people over 21 interested in science and technology but worried about their maths.

A poster campaign attracted almost 300 applicants, from which 63 students registered for the course. Of these 49 completed the course, 39 of whom have since been offered places at South Bank.

Anna Paczuska, the course co-ordinater, was delighted with the response. "We had a wide range of applicants, via access courses, and literally off the street. Tutors at Lewisham College encourage people to choose here, but there were also many people not holding UCAS places. Around 60 per cent of the people who finished were on benefit and seven or eight were over 40," she said.

One of these was Fred Coba, a self-employed businessman working in the car industry. "I studied business administration in Leeds about eight years ago. But I want to know the ins and outs of my business from the mechanical side. I thought that maths was a big weight. But the course showed me how to take difficult maths problems and break them down into simple steps."

Mr Coba now intends to study for a BEng in mechatronics, a new course in mechanical and electrical engineering at South Bank.

The course has employed one tutor for every ten students. Lecturers were largely further education tutors employed on a parttime basis.

"The lecturer was able to pay attention to five or six students, which was great if I had a particular problem," said Mr Coba.

Students Rachel Pang, 23, and Jean Claude Mvelle, 31, agreed that the teaching style was very helpful.

"I thought it was going to be hard," said Ms Pang, "but the tutor made it easier to understand."

"One lecturer in particular was very good," agreed Mr Mvelle. "He was very passionate, and made it look so simple."

The two will also be staying on at South Bank, although neither had secured places at the university before the course. Ms Pang is progressing to a foundation course in computing while Mr Mvelle is to register for a BSc in computer-aided engineering.

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