Should student teachers be paid to act as recruiting agents for the profession?
Academics at Oxford Brookes University are considering this possibility after finding that word-of-mouth recommendations make a far bigger impact on enrolments than costly magazine advertising.
Forty per cent of the 150 Oxford Brookes students who have enrolled on the secondary postgraduate certificate in education course over the past two years said they were acting on recommendations from other students or the university's partner schools.
A similar proportion found out about the course through the free handbook produced by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry. But ads in the national press attracted only 7 per cent of last year's intake and there was no response to ads in specialist magazines.
Dr Graham Lenton, a senior lecturer, found that less than a third of the Teacher Training Agency cash that Oxford Brookes receives for recruitment publicity was spent on local media. However, he says this is where institutions' money should be targeted in future.
His survey showed that 68 per cent of the 150 trainees were locals and half of them said that they could only afford to do the course because they lived at home.
Dr Lenton said it was easy to spend several thousand pounds advertising in publications such as the CRAC Students' Guide, Pathfinder and Forward "yet not one trainee had seen the adverts in these magazines".
"Personal recommendation has a much bigger impact, particularly in institutions that recruit heavily from the local area. It may therefore make sense to use the TTA money we receive to pay trainees to help the recruitment drive."
E-mail Dr Graham Lenton on firstname.lastname@example.org