Information for HEIs

Mathematics Briefings for Higher Education 2017

The FMSP has produced two briefing documents for Higher Education which provide data on the growth of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics since 2003 as well as background information on the A level specifications and the support offered by the FMSP.

  • A level Mathematics Briefing Document
  • A level Further Maths Briefing Document

  • Level 3 Mathematics Presentations

    In November 2016 and March 2017 the FMSP ran one day events in London and Manchester respectively to discuss the major developments in Level 3 mathematics and the implications of the changes for recruitment of undergraduates. The following presentations were given at that the March 2017 event along with an exemplar document containing examples of wording used by universities as to encourage the uptake of A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

  • Access to HE opening plenary March 2017
  • Core Maths March 2017
  • Access to HE Discussion Session March 2017
  • Exemplar Entry Requirements to Encourage Mathematics / Further Mathematics

  • GCE Mathematics Aggregation Rules - Guidance for HE Institutions

    The GCE Mathematics Aggregation Rules - Guidance for HE Institutions is a very useful document for university admissions tutors to be aware of and understand when considering the A level offers to make to students studying both Mathematics and Further Mathematics.

    It explains that when grading A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, the rules maximise the grade in Mathematics first. So if a student's module scores mean that AC and BB are both possible pairs of grades, AC will be given in preference to BB.

    These rules apply to students completing the modular A level qualifications. From 2017 students will start courses leading to a linear qualification. For these qualifications the aggregation rules will not apply.

    Pre-university Mathematics Guide

    The Pre-university Mathematics Guide, produced by MEI, provides information about the mathematical content of current A and AS level specifications for Mathematics and Further Mathematics together with details of other post-16 qualifications including: Free Standing Mathematics Qualifications; Diplomas; Scottish Highers; and the IB.

    FMSP Area Coordinators

    The FMSP has a network of Area Coordinators in England and many are based in universities. Please contact your local Area Coordinator to discuss any issues relating to Further Mathematics, the promotion of post-16 mathematics, and collaborating on STEM outreach initiatives.

    2017 A levels in Mathematics and Further Mathematics

    The FMSP will provide support for universities in relation to the new 2017 AS and A level qualifications in Mathematics and Further Mathematics. The support could be through conferences for university colleagues or through written information. In addition, the FMSP is happy to run training sessions for academic and admissions colleagues in universities in relation to the new A levels. Please contact Claire Baldwin.


    • Mind the Gap Mathematics and the transition from A-levels to physics and engineering degrees, Institute of Physics 2011

    • Mathematical Needs Mathematics in the workplace and in Higher Education, ACME 2011

    • AS and A level Subject Content for teaching from September 2017 The Department for Education's agreed subject guidance for A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics. Draft specifications are due to be released in the Spring term of 2015.

    • Mathematical Transitions Investigation into the mathematical and statistical requirements in a range of discipline areas including: Business and Management, Chemistry, Economics, Geography, Sociology and Psychology. Reports were commissioned from discipline experts to provide a strong evidence base to inform developments within the disciplines and dialogue between the higher education and pre-university sectors. HEA 2014

    • Towards Universal Participation in Post-16 MathematicsThis study is a follow-up to the Nuffield Foundation report 'Is the UK an outlier? An international comparison of upper secondary mathematics education'. It provides up-to-date information on participation in upper secondary (post-16) mathematics education in seven countries, and aims to identify the factors that drive participation. Nuffield Foundation 2013

    • The report Popularity of A level subjects among UK university students by Cambridge Assessment, June 2013, has data on the proportions of students who hold each A level subject (or combinations of A level subjects) when applying for a place at university. The research found that 30% of all accepted university applicants have A level Mathematics as one of their A level subjects. Combinations including A level Further Mathematics were also high in the overall rankings.

    The FMSP is working with a number of universities and schools to improve access for students to local support for higher level mathematical problem solving and STEP/AEA/MAT preparation, so that more students are able to access mathematics courses at leading universities.

    The support offered in different areas ranges from one-day intensive problem-solving conferences or revision days, to a programme of weekly twilight sessions. In many areas the FMSP Area Coordinators facilitates these activities and events by advertising to local schools/colleges, providing resources and finding the tutors. The FMSP has provided advice, contacts and resources to help a school, college or university to establish its own provision.

    Why STEP, AEA and the MAT?

    The FMSP encourages the development of students' mathematical skills through the study of A and AS level Further Mathematics and tackling mathematical problems. The STEP, AEA and MAT examinations provide the motivation and opportunity for some students to develop these skills, practise solving unstructured and novel problems and thereby become more resilient, fluent and flexible in their approach to tackling problems in mathematics. The FMSP believes that improving these skills prepares students very well for higher education courses.

    Although only a small number of HE mathematics departments currently include STEP/AEA grades in their conditional offers or require students to take the MAT, most courses would benefit from entrants with improved problemsolving and mathematical skills. The FMSP would like to work with more universities, schools and colleges to develop problem solving skills and provision for supporting STEP,AEA and the MAT across the country. If you would like to discuss how the FMSP might help you establish provision for local students please contact Kevin Lord, FMSP HE liaison coordinator [email protected].

    Examples of provision

    There are a number of universities, schools and colleges which provide support for problem-solving and help preparing for STEP, AEA and MAT examinations. The FMSP has helped some institutions to establish their provision and provides support and help with coordinating and publicising the provision to local students. Details of the provision known to the FMSP is summarised on Support for STEP/AEA/MAT.

    Here are short case studies which illustrate how universities provide support for developing problem – solving skill and STEP/AEA/MAT preparation and the help that the FMSP can provide.

    University of Bath

    • Free support for local state school students provided by the university mathematics support service.
    • FMSP advice in the initial set up and ongoing help advertising the provision

    Download the University of Bath case study for more details of the provision.

    University of Sheffield

    • Free support for local state-school students provided by the university mathematics department and FMSP Area Coordinator as part of the university’s outreach provision
    • Year 12 Problem Solving Club
    • Year 13 STEP and AEA support

    Download the University of Sheffield case study for more details of the provision.