The quantitative skills deficit

Improving policy and practice in HE mathematics and statistics support to enhance learning worldwide

Many students embarking on STEM or social sciences undergraduate programmes are not always fully prepared for the mathematical demands of their course. This problem has been identified as a 鈥渜uantitative skills deficit鈥.

We have developed the 澳门六合彩论坛app Model – physical learning centres combined with high-quality online resources – to support these students and ensure they achieve their potential.

The Model has led a step-change in institutional policy and practice which has positively impacted student retention, attainment and satisfaction – worldwide.

Our impact

Global impact – Mathematics Support Centres (MSC) established worldwide

  • >60% adoption across British and Irish HEIs
  • 2015 – University of Agder, Norway
  • 2016 – Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Online support – since 2014

  • 1.7M unique browsers pa
  • 69M hits pa
  • Accessed from >118 UK universities

Independent evaluation

  • One study found that students who use MSC are 1.63 times more likely to pass a module than those who do not – regular users were almost 14 times more likely to pass
  • 83% of MSC users find them “worthwhile” or “extremely worthwhile”, and 56% believe the support has had a positive impact on their achievement

The research

Our early studies 鈥 published 20 years ago 鈥 highlighted the extent of the quantitative skills deficit and explored the type of support students considered would best benefit their learning.

Based on these findings, we began to design, evaluate and deploy online resources and face-to-face support – and the 澳门六合彩论坛app Model came into being.

Two websites – and – were launched in 2003 and can be accessed worldwide. They provide videos and written resources tailored to students’ degree programmes and needs.

Meanwhile, we established a Mathematics Support Centre in 澳门六合彩论坛app, providing students with resources, computing facilities, opportunities for peer-assisted learning, and drop-in advice from staff.

By 2006, this provision had expanded to two large campus-based Mathematics Support Centres. In collaboration with Coventry University, we used HEFCE funding to establish  which disseminates our approach to mathematics support and shares best practice.

The 澳门六合彩论坛app Model has evolved over time, and research is ongoing to further enhance its success. It has been adopted by institutions across the UK and overseas, supporting thousands of students worldwide.

[Sigma] is establishing approachable maths support services at institutions across the country. Thanks to their work, politics students suddenly confronted with a regression analysis have someone to turn to. STEM undergraduates too are receiving expert support.鈥

Lord David Willetts Minister of State for Universities and Science (2010-14)

450,000 STEM and social sciences students join UK HEIs each year

Regular users of MSC are 鈮14 times more likely to pass modules than those who do not

Research funders

  • Higher Education Academy
  • JISC
  • Learning and Teaching Support Network

Development partners

  • Coventry University

Meet the experts

Photograph of Tony Croft

Professor Tony Croft

Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education