COURSES in Wales offering teacher training for further education lecturers may have to close because the Welsh Assembly is refusing to pay students salaries.
In England all PGCE students have been given a pound;6,000 training salary to boost recruitment. But Jane Davidson, the new minister of education at the Welsh Assembly, is excluding people training to teach in FE colleges. Primary students in Wales have also been excluded but they will be eligible next year.
Professor John Furlong of Cardiff University, one of two instititions offering full-time training for FE teachers, said the decision was "potentially disastrous".
"Currently the full-time PGCE course attracts some of the most able graduates into FE but unless this decision is reversed, there is a real chance that these courses will close. We are already recruiting for next year but when students learn that they can do precisely the same course in England and receive a salary of pound;6,000 they naturally lose interest in staying in Wales."
The two full-time PGCE (FE) courses in Wales re at Cardiff University with 120 students and University Wales College, Newport, with 80 students. Students at both institutions will be holding demonstrations outside the National Assembly next week to protest against the discrimination.
The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (Cymru) was due to meet the minister this week to try to persuade her to change her mind. David Egan, chair, said: "We will be pressing on her the potential damage this decision will have this year on ITT provision in Wales. If these courses fail to recruit then there is a real possibility that they will have to close. We will then be storing up serious problems for ourselves for recruitment into FE teaching in Wales."
But a spokeswoman for the Assembly said there was no shortage of teachers in this area. "If we put public money into an area that is full and even over-subscribed - given that these grants are incentives to recruit - then that would be difficult to defend."
In England, 1,389 students have benefited from the pound;6,000 payments.