The government is refusing to relax strict limits on teacher training numbers, leaving thousands of failed bankers and other highly skilled graduates hoping to enter the profession facing disappointment.
The economic downturn has made life in the classroom look increasingly attractive, but training targets set before the recession threaten to leave many who want to join the chalkface out in the cold.
Numbers on training courses are being cut from this month despite a 31 per cent rise in applications among those wanting to be a secondary teacher and a 10 per cent increase in primary applications.
Experts have urged the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which agrees allocations, to take advantage of the enthusiasm and increase in numbers.
The TES can also reveal that the cuts in numbers will make it uneconomic for universities to run courses, leaving areas of the country without training in some subjects. The TDA says its efforts to encourage providers to "swap" allocations to provide a better spread of courses have had mixed results.
University education departments rated as good or better by Ofsted are allowed to train more students than those judged satisfactory or lower.
The teacher supply model, on which the training forecasts are based, aims to predict how many school staff are needed. But there are doubts about its accuracy. The TDA has already had to allow more training places for primary teachers after it became clear the birth rate was rising more rapidly than expected.
Some universities also believe the model had wrongly estimated the number of teachers leaving the profession.
But the TDA says allocations will not be reviewed again until the end of the year.
The Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers has called on the TDA to "exploit" the extraordinary opportunity provided by the recession.
"We hope training numbers won't also be cut to save money," UCET chairman James Noble Rogers said.
"The Government should use this opportunity because in a few years' time these people might not be around and that would be a loss to the profession."
David Willetts, shadow minister for innovation, universities and skills, has also called for the limits on training numbers to be changed.
"The record number of applications will make no real difference to the classroom," he said.
"Rather than a big expansion, there is likely to be a record number of disappointed applicants."