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Would A Level Computer Science be more popular if it became a Russell Group subject? Watch

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    (Original post by Arran90)
    That's just specific to Trinity College. I'm referring to a national list endorsed by the DfE following the recent A Level reforms.
    regardless of it being specific to trinity, i think it's a pretty accurate list. all the A1 and A2 subjects are academically rigorous.
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    (Original post by Arran90)
    The impression I have of A Levels is the following:

    1. The Russell Group universities appear to be functioning as a cartel to prevent any newer A Level subjects from becoming facilitating subjects regardless of how related they are to degree courses. It could even be argued that they are trying to create an education system effectively frozen in the 1950s by failing to give the same degree of credit to newer subjects as they do to more traditional subjects.
    Evidence?

    And they aren't a cartel when different members of the RG have different entry requirements and preferred subjects for courses.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    2. The only respectable subjects that are not Russell Group or facilitating are music and economics. Everything else is perceived as being a soft subject, inferior to a Russell Group or facilitating subject, or not seen as a good gauge of academic performance.
    Stop saying RG A-levels. There's no such thing. And regarding non-facilitating but "traditional" you can add: Philosophy, Latin, Art, etc

    For example, Art is not seen as soft or easy, it requires rigour and a significant workload - it's just not appropriate as a first or second choice subject for most courses. These subjects are absolutely fine for most courses as a third subject. There are Cambridge maths offer holders with Art as a 3rd subject.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    3. If a subject is not Russell Group or facilitating then it acts as a disincentive to students to study if it is academically rigorous or deemed to be hard. High ability students in KS4 are recommended that they take Russell Group or facilitating subjects over those which are not. I'm well aware that many subjects that are not Russell Group or facilitating can be very popular but most of them are deemed to be easy or fun subjects, and none of them are STEM subjects.
    Again, not being a facilitating subject hasn't stopped Psychology from being the fourth most popular A-level. And Physics & Biology (facilitating STEMs) are losing popularity.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    My recommendations are:

    1. For the DfE to create a list of academically rigorous A Levels as a replacement for the Russell Group or facilitating subjects. This will include the existing Russell Group or facilitating subjects plus computer science, economics, electronics, geology, and music.
    The RG got enough flack for listing facilitating subjects. I doubt the DfE wants to attract any more attention by creating another list. The artists and philosophers, for example, would be unhappy with your list.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    2. Facilitating subjects to be matched to degree courses rather than being general.
    They are. See the previous poster.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    That's got the potential to create a catch 22 situation. Universities won't ask for computer science because it isn't widely available, and students won't take computer science because universities don't ask for it.
    Which is fine because Maths is more useful for an academic CompSci degree.

    (Original post by Arran90)
    It's always possible that computer science could be a recommended (but not mandatory) subject for computing degree courses and recognised for other degree courses such as sciences, engineering, and economics.
    BTW I'm no apologist for the RG - I just don't see a significant change is needed in the list of facilitating subjects.
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    Time will surely tell but my concern is that if computer science does not achieve the same level of recognition and respect by universities and employers in the same way as biology, chemistry, and physics at A Level currently are, then it has the potential to propagate downwards through the school system and damage the reputation of the subject at GCSE or even primary school level. This will inevitably result in the subject having a poorer image in the eyes of parents and students which will then harm further investment in the subject. I am well aware that technology subjects, and that includes electronics, has a poor image at GCSE level in comparison to the core subjects of English, mathematics, and science and is not considered a serious subject by many parents. I don't want to see computer science going down the same route simply because the A Level is a marginal subject taken by a few thousand candidates and not highly rated by employers or universities because it isn't a facilitating subject.

    There is also opposition to computer science in primary and secondary schools with plenty of people wanting to revert back to ICT because it is easier for lower ability students or that it is a life skill whereas coding and CPUs are not.

    To the best of my knowledge all computer science (and other technical computing) courses require A Level mathematics but is it really right that computer science is looked down on compared to physics or chemistry because they are facilitating subjects whereas computer science isn't? Is it right for universities to demand TWO facilitating subjects at A Level (including mathematics) for computing degrees? This would turn away students who have A Levels in mathematics, computer science, and another subject that isn't a facilitating subject, but students who have A Levels in mathematics, geography / history / English literature, and another subject that isn't a facilitating subject or computer science may be accepted.
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    (Original post by Arran90)
    To the best of my knowledge all computer science (and other technical computing) courses require A Level mathematics but is it really right that computer science is looked down on compared to physics or chemistry because they are facilitating subjects whereas computer science isn't? Is it right for universities to demand TWO facilitating subjects at A Level (including mathematics) for computing degrees? .
    Your knowledge is faulty.

    Cambridge:
    http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.a...mputer-science
    Computer Science
    Required by all Colleges: A Level/IB Higher Level Mathematics
    Required by some Colleges: AS or A Level/IB Higher Level Further Mathematics; A Level/IB Higher Level Computing, a second or three science/mathematics subjects

    (Just to be clear, the new Computer Science A-level is considered to be equivalent to the old Computing A-Level)
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    The computer science departments at some high ranking universities a few years ago when we had A Level computing rather than computer science demanded A Levels in mathematics and another facilitating subject which pushed computing down into being a third A Level. There were a few instances of students from my own college not being accepted onto computer science courses with A Levels in mathematics and computing because of this.

    I haven't had time to go through A Level requirements for computer science degrees with a fine toothed comb yet since the introduction of the new computer science A Level to see if the same situation still exists anywhere today.
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    (Original post by Don John)
    No I think it should stay to those subjects.

    The other subjects aren't bad at all, they're just very specialised. The RG subjects are broad and general. They can be applied to any degree, whereas the others are applicable to a very narrow range of degrees.
    Computer science is HUGELY applicable to every science. Many of the big developments in science are being driven by computer science these days, and even in subjects like English and geography. When it becomes taught throughout school I could definitely see it becoming a facilitating subject for sciences.
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    Probably not because computer science is so specific, it would never become an entry requirement, it'll probably always be maths. Because maths shows skills in multiple areas whereas computer science shows skills in computer science only, really. So people would rarely take it over maths, if that makes sense but maybe with maths or another science.
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    (Original post by punkroses)
    Probably not because computer science is so specific, it would never become an entry requirement, it'll probably always be maths. Because maths shows skills in multiple areas whereas computer science shows skills in computer science only, really. So people would rarely take it over maths, if that makes sense but maybe with maths or another science.
    You have completely missed the point. All universities will require an A Level in mathematics for computer science
    (and other technical computing) degree courses in the foreseeable future so there is absolutely no A Level mathematics vs A Level computer science argument. The questions are:

    1. Whether the computer science A Level will become recognised as a facilitating subject in the future?

    2. If it does not become a facilitating subject then will applicants who have it be accepted by universities for computer science
    (and other technical computing) degree courses if they do not have any other facilitating subjects apart from mathematics. Some universities have demanded two facilitating subjects including mathematics.

    3. Will it be more popular if it became a facilitating subject?
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    (Original post by Arran90)
    You have completely missed the point. All universities will require an A Level in mathematics for computer science
    (and other technical computing) degree courses in the foreseeable future so there is absolutely no A Level mathematics vs A Level computer science argument. The questions are:

    1. Whether the computer science A Level will become recognised as a facilitating subject in the future?

    2. If it does not become a facilitating subject then will applicants who have it be accepted by universities for computer science
    (and other technical computing) degree courses if they do not have any other facilitating subjects apart from mathematics. Some universities have demanded two facilitating subjects including mathematics.

    3. Will it be more popular if it became a facilitating subject?
    1. No
    2. Yes (I just showed you Cambridge accept it, and Imperial says it is "very useful", Oxford is fine with it, Bristol is fine with it, need I continue....????)
    3. I refer you to 1.
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    Does anybody know of any universities that currently demands TWO facilitating subjects, including mathematics, for computer science (and other technical computing) degree courses even if the applicant holds a computer science A Level?

    Is it true that most universities prefer applicants for computer science (and other technical computing) degree courses to have a physics A Level? Would an applicant who has A Levels in mathematics, computer science, and economics be perceived as soft or academically weaker than an applicant who has A Levels in mathematics, physics, and chemistry?
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    (Original post by Arran90)
    Does anybody know of any universities that currently demands TWO facilitating subjects, including mathematics, for computer science (and other technical computing) degree courses even if the applicant holds a computer science A Level?

    Is it true that most universities prefer applicants for computer science (and other technical computing) degree courses to have a physics A Level? Would an applicant who has A Levels in mathematics, computer science, and economics be perceived as soft or academically weaker than an applicant who has A Levels in mathematics, physics, and chemistry?
    No

    I have double-checked the top 10. All ask for Maths, and any that also specify a 2nd subject include Computing (Computer Science) as a listed, acceptable, option.

    I'll leave you to check the rest but given its fine for the top ranked unis I don't see the point.


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    An interesting story is that a student from my locality with A Levels in mathematics, computing, and economics was rejected by a university when he applied to study computer science because he did not have two facilitating subjects but another student from my locality with A Levels in mathematics, religious studies, and Urdu was accepted by the very same university that year to study computer science because Urdu is classed as a facilitating subject. To make matters worse, the first student had reasonably good experience programming whereas the second student had hardly even used a computer in his life. A lot of people at the time thought it was a downright cheek verging on rough justice. Do universities want applicants who know computer languages or human languages? The first student was accepted by another university to study computer science.
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    (Original post by Arran90)
    An interesting story is that a student from my locality with A Levels in mathematics, computing, and economics was rejected by a university when he applied to study computer science because he did not have two facilitating subjects
    Which uni?

    And did you read my edit above?

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    (Original post by Arran90)
    You have completely missed the point. All universities will require an A Level in mathematics for computer science
    (and other technical computing) degree courses in the foreseeable future
    What are you basing this on? You can very easily crun a 4 year computer science course with little maths. You can also run a maths intensive computer science course (e.g at Warwick). Maths isn't a necessity. There are decent Uni's that do computer science and don't require maths at A level at all. Just a passion for the subject and good grades.

    This whole debate is pointless anyway. Who cares if a subject is facilitating? Just take whatever you enjoy and what will get you onto the course you prefer. Engineering applicants don't take maths because it's facilitating. They take it because they find it interesting and it'll get them onto the course.

    If you like computer science then take it. Same applies to any other subject
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    (Original post by Lawliettt)
    Engineering applicants don't take maths because it's facilitating. They take it because they find it interesting and it'll get them onto the course.
    That's a perfect demonstration of facilitating. They take it because it helps their application to engineering. And it helps their application because there is a lot of maths in engineering. But the facilitation is only relevant to the specific course. If they didn't have maths then having other so-called facilitating subjects wouldn't help them get into an Engineering degree.

    facilitating
    make (an action or process) easy or easier.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    That's a perfect demonstration of facilitating. They take it because it helps their application to engineering. And it helps their application because there is a lot of maths in engineering. But the facilitation is only relevant to the specific course. If they didn't have maths then having other so-called facilitating subjects wouldn't help them get into an Engineering degree.

    facilitating
    make (an action or process) easy or easier.
    That's not what it means in context of universities though. Otherwise every single A level or btec subject would be facilitating. They help people get onto their desired course right?

    Ironically, UCL don't even require maths for civil engineering. The term faciliting subject holds little importance. Take what you want as long as it gets you onto your course. Further maths knowledge won't be of much help to someone taking Biology at University
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    (Original post by Lawliettt)
    Take what you want as long as it gets you onto your course.
    Yes.

    (The only caveat is most people don't know at age 15/16 when they are still taking their GCSEs and being told they have to pick their A-levels, which course they will want to do when they go to uni. Unless they are a medic...)
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    (Original post by jneill)
    I have double-checked the top 10. All ask for Maths, and any that also specify a 2nd subject include Computing (Computer Science) as a listed, acceptable, option.
    Many thanks.

    (Original post by jneill)
    Which uni?
    I'm sure it was Manchester.
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    (Original post by Lawliettt)
    That's not what it means in context of universities though. Otherwise every single A level or btec subject would be facilitating. They help people get onto their desired course right?
    No. Non-facilitating subjects such as economics and politics don't help you get on to economics or politics courses, in the sense that they aren't required (even if they might be useful). It is less relevant facilitating subjects like maths and history that are required.
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    A-level Computer Science may become more popular as time passes and universities start to understand what it does. However, at the moment it duplicates lots of first year content, and so isn't particularly useful in comparison to maths. That might change if the vast majority of Computer Science applicants take it at A-level, and universities can alter their courses in response.
 
 
 
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