Each year, a substantial number of students enter tertiary studies lacking a firm grasp of the mathematics they will need for their courses. This is in part a result of the swing away from the more demanding mathematics courses at school level, which has been well-documented in recent years (see, for example, Dekkers et al., 1986), and partly a consequence of special entry provisions for mature age students, who generally find that they have forgotten a great deal of the mathematics they once knew. It may also result from the present intense competition for tertiary places, which encourages students to ‘play safe’ during their last years of school and avoid courses perceived to be difficult. Whatever the reason, students who lack the mathematics required in their chosen courses are at risk of failing or dropping out.