Rough deal

David Marks, a 31-year-old computing science student who travels from Glasgow, describes the situation as "a pretty hefty kick in the teeth".

Mr Marks, an electronics engineer, has been campaigning for fair treatment for Stirling students and recognises the difficulties schools face when they have already drawn up timetables for the coming session. However, he believes it should not be impossible to have a split year for probationers.

"The main difference with previous years is that we cannot take a full-time permanent contract. We will have to take six months of supply at a probationary rate. Then we will have two months in the summer with no pay," he said.

He points to strong financial implications for mature students if they join others in a probationary year beginning in August, as it will then be 20 months since they graduated before they can move into permanent posts in shortage subjects such as his own.

Local authorities may welcome the influx of Stirling students in the second half of the year as supply teachers dry up but Mr Marks believes there is no guarantee of temporary work.

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