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28 Oct 2013

Mathematics and statistics support for students in English universities receives funding boost

sigma, the national network for cross-university mathematics and statistics support in England, is delighted to announce the award of more than £800,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to boost its vital service.

Students increasingly need quantitative skills for success on their degree courses and for many the provision of specialist mathematics support is essential to ensure fair access, retention, achievement and employability.

sigma, established in 2005, has been a driving force in the creation of university-wide centres dedicated to helping students to develop and improve mathematical and statistical skills. It is led by Professors Tony Croft from Loughborough University and Duncan Lawson from Newman University.

This new three-year funding will enable any higher education institution in England to tap into a wealth of expertise and resources that have been developed by sigma. The money will be used to help fund new mathematics support centres and related activities, encourage and support existing centres and practitioners, run workshops and conferences focusing on effective teaching and learning support and create new resources for practitioners and students needing mathematics support.

Overall it will ensure the network can continue to improve the university experience for thousands of students as they progress through their degree programmes.

David Bowers, Chair of the national sigma network and Head of Learning Development at University Campus Suffolk, welcomed the announcement. 

“This renewed funding is a clear acknowledgement of the significant contribution that sigma has made to the provision of cross-university maths and statistics support in recent years,” he said. “Tutors working with tomorrow’s nurses, engineers, scientists and business managers to develop their essential mathematical skills will receive a huge boost.”

Chris Millward, HEFCE’s Associate Director, added: “It is clear that students across a wide range of disciplines need a mathematical fluency and competency to succeed in their university studies and in work. We are very pleased to be able to support sigma to continue its excellent work in spreading and enhancing maths support for students across England.”

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: “Maths skills are a pre-requisite for a wide range of jobs. sigma is a great scheme to broaden access to maths amongst a wide range of students, many of whom thought they had dropped Maths at 16. I am delighted HEFCE is increasing funding for sigma.”

The sigma national mathematics and statistics support activity will be led from Loughborough University’s Mathematics Education Centre, in conjunction with colleagues from Coventry and Newman Universities and members of the sigma network. For further information visit www.sigma-network.ac.uk

−ENDS−

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 13/205

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. It has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league, and in recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

About HEFCE

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) promotes and funds high-quality, cost-effective teaching and research to meet the diverse needs of students, the economy and society. Our responsibilities are to distribute funds, safeguard quality and assure the stewardship of public money. We work closely with universities, colleges and other partners to develop policies, achieve excellence and impact in education and research, and to provide opportunities for all those who have the ability to benefit from higher education. For the academic year 2013-14, HEFCE will allocate £4.47 billion to 129 universities and higher education colleges and 203 further education colleges. www.hefce.ac.uk

In the recently published publication, Robbins Revisited: Bigger and Better Higher Education, by the Universities Minister, David Willetts MP, sigma is referenced as an important initiative in ensuring that students have the required mathematics skills for university study.

Contact for all media enquiries

Amanda Overend
Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk