Universities will be forced to axe teacher training courses this year, lecturers' leaders say, causing job losses across the country.
This follows a move to switch to school-based training of teachers. In addition, the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) which administers teacher training has said the number of places for trainee secondary school teachers will fall.
The news emerged as the deadline for 2012 university applications expired last night. Universities expect a fall of 5 to 6 per cent due to fees rising to up to £9,000 a year – a fall of between 25,000 and 30,000 in the number of applicants compared with last year.
But it is teacher training that worries union officials. They said Liverpool Hope University had already made job cuts ahead of the cutbacks. In a letter to universities, Tom Glover, director of marketing at the TDA, said: "The reduction in secondary places and the Department for Education's strategy to increase school-led provision may result in some providers having to consider their involvement in initial teacher training."
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "These changes will inevitably lead to job losses in every university where teacher training is taught."
Institutions were also bracing for university applications for 2012. A poll of 21 universities by The Independent showed a mixed picture with 10 reporting a fall in applications this year, nine a rise and two fairly static. Manchester University has seen a fall in UK applicants from 35,052 last year to 30,359, the University of Bedfordshire saw a 7.9 per cent fall and London's School of Oriental and African Studies reports "a marked decline in applications."
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK – which represents vice-chancellors, said: "I think we're looking generally at some dip in applications although the situation is volatile."
Figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show arts and humanities courses like creative arts and design are down 14.6 per cent.
* Unpaid student debts could end up costing the taxpayer around £9bn a year, a report has found. Unless students immediately earn a £50,000 salary on leaving university, a "significant amount" of what they owe will be written off, according to the investment managers Skandia. Any part of the loan still unpaid after 30 years will be written off. The report estimates this will cost the Government £8.7bn in 2045.