Those who think they can teach are not put off by job fears

6th June 2003 at 01:00
APPLICATIONS to teacher training remain buoyant, despite widespread redundancies in the profession and a new survey suggesting higher tuition fees will put teenagers off applying for university.

Applications for secondary postgraduate courses in England remain 14 per cent up on last year, at 21,264, according to the latest figures published this week. In Wales, secondary applications have increased by only 6.4 per cent, but both countries have buoyant figures for primary - up 18.8 and 14.2 per cent respectively.

Maths could be the closest it has been to hitting recruitment targets set by the Government since the mid-1990s, with applications up 35.5 per cent in England to 1,737.

Information technology continues to recruit strongly (up 63.8 per cent), yet 70 per cent of courses still had at least one empty place as of June 1.

A third of history and half of English courses are in the same position, despite healthy application rates.

Recruitment expert John Howson said it was impossible to tell if training providers were just slow to fill places or had concerns about the quality of applicants.

He said: "We do not know the effect the budget crisis in schools will have.

Will students take notice of teacher redundancies, or keep applying because teaching offers the best job prospects compared to many other parts of the economy?"

Postgraduate trainee teachers do not pay fees, and trainees in shortage subjects can have their student loans repaid over time by the Government.

A Liberal Democrat survey of around 2,500 Year 11 pupils, expected to be the first group to face increased university tuition fees in 2006, suggests that more than two-thirds would be put off higher education by the additional costs.

A similar proportion would consider opting for a cheaper university - as institutions will be able to charge different fees - or for shorter or cheaper courses.

Nearly 70 per cent of students who have previously received or currently receive free school meals said higher fees might deter them from going to university.

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "This survey of the first students who will be affected by top-up fees presents damning evidence that the Labour policy will hit those students from poorer backgrounds hardest.

"The right to a good education should be based on ability, not ability to pay."

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