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Eight would-be teachers chase each training place as cuts are felt

Cuts to teacher-training numbers have led to tougher competition, with eight applicants chasing every place on average.

Figures released last week by the Liberal Democrats, following a Freedom of Information request, showed that there have so far been 15,821 applications to start training in August.

The final date by which applications can be received via the admissions service UCAS is June 30.

By then, applications to teacher education institutions are widely expected to far exceed the final number received last year of 16,000. There are just 1,949 places available for trainee teachers this year, down from 3,569 last year.

The most oversubscribed institution is Glasgow University, which has so far received 4,246 applications for just 406 places.

The primary sector was hardest hit when the Scottish Government last year announced plans to reduce teacher education numbers.

The primary one-year postgraduate course will see a 70 per cent reduction in numbers in August, while the four-year primary B.Ed will see its intake cut by 40 per cent. The numbers entering the one-year secondary postgraduate course will fall by 12 per cent.

Margaret Smith, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, said: "The SNP has slashed the number of training places by 1,500 this year. But these figures show that has not deterred people from applying to become teachers. The SNP's plans risk the creation of a lost generation of teachers without jobs."

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "We want to ensure that we have the best candidates for teacher training and the high level of interest demonstrates that teaching in Scotland continues to be regarded as an attractive career choice.

"However, we took the difficult decision to reduce student teacher places from this autumn, to ensure that we can create more jobs for those teachers already qualified."

In Wales, the number of aspiring teachers enrolling in training is at its lowest level for a decade, new figures have revealed. Statistics from the Welsh Assembly show that 2,035 students enrolled in initial teacher education last year - 3 per cent fewer than in 2007-08 and the lowest number in 10 years.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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