Large numbers of students entering higher education take some level of mathematics as part of their degrees, and it is widely reported that a considerable minority of these students demonstrate a lack of the basic mathematical skills that they require to succeed. A common response has been the establishment of mathematics learning supports to give students the opportunity to reach the levels required. Research has shown that in general, although the supports appear to impact positively on studentswho avail of them, a significant number of students do not engage appropriately. This article presents preliminary findings from a national survey carried out at nine Higher Education Institutions in Ireland, focusing on the reasons given by students for their lack of engagement with the extra supports. It looks at the students'mathematical backgrounds; the type of institution they attend, and discusses what these students reported would encourage themto avail of the supports. Â© The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. All rights reserved.