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Student loans 'putting off' trainee teachers

Graduates are being “put off” training for a career in the classroom by the cost of postgraduate loans, even though most teachers will not have to pay them back, research suggests.

The majority of teachers come into the profession as postgraduates, but the loans to pay for initial teacher training (ITT) are acting as a deterrent, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

But the average teacher with a typical career progression will not have to pay back their loan before it is written off. This is because they will not have repaid their undergraduate loans before they expire after 30 years, the research says.

The report, published today, raises questions over the government’s decision to fund initial teacher training using student loans.

Ellen Greaves, senior research economist at the IFS and lead author of the report, said: “By saying they have to pay £9,000 in student fees to undertake the postgraduate course as well as living expenses, [the government] is putting off some potential teachers."

Chris Belfield, research economist at IFS and co-author of the report, added: “Remarkably under the new student loan system the government receives no repayment of the loan provided for a postgraduate ITT course from a typical teacher.

"That fact may not be appreciated by those considering a career in teaching who may be put off by an apparent cost they will in fact be unlikely to bear”.

The report found the most expensive training route to the government was £42,000 under the School Direct unsalaried scheme for teachers in high-need subjects, as they are given a 25 per cent bursary to tempt them to choose a career in teaching.

Despite costing the government more than £25,000 per teacher, Teach First was rated as the training route that showed best value for money by schools, the study showed.

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