£6,000 grant lures thousands more to teaching courses

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Applications for teacher training courses have increased by nearly 50 per cent since the Government announced £6,000 bursaries for trainees, ministers said yesterday.

Applications for teacher training courses have increased by nearly 50 per cent since the Government announced £6,000 bursaries for trainees, ministers said yesterday.

The numbers applying for postgraduate training courses leapt by 48 per cent since the announcement in March, compared with the same period last year. Figures released by the Teacher Training Agency showed 17,463 people had applied for courses, the highest level for three years.

Estelle Morris, the School Standards minister, said the figures were proof that the new training salaries, to be paid from September, were working. One thousand of the extra applications received since March were in shortage subjects such as maths and science, she said.

Under the training bursaries scheme, trainees will receive £6,000 towards their living costs, as well as free tuition.

Teachers applying to study in shortage subjects, including maths, science, modern languages and technology, will also receive "golden hellos" worth £4,000 over two years. Schools offering on-the-job training will also receive £13,000 towards salaries for trainees.

Despite yesterday's figures, applications for four-year undergraduate courses in primary education were down 3.3 per cent to 60,784. Under the Government's scheme only postgraduate trainees are eligible to receive bursaries.

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, said: "We are pleased that the new incentives have led to a rise in applications. Improved marketing and targeting is bearing fruit in a competitive and buoyant graduate recruitment market."

Ms Morris added: "We still need more teachers, but our introduction of training salaries has stopped a long-term decline in applications.

"There are still shortages in London and specific subjects, but I am particularly pleased that over 1,000 of the extra applications are in the shortage subjects of maths, science, modern languages and technology. The majority of these are for modern languages and technology, where golden hellos will apply for the first time.

"Applications for maths and science have also risen since 30 March compared with the same period last year."

The statistics coincided with overall university application figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which showed that more than one in six students now plans to live at home while studying. A total of 71,639 applicants said they wanted to live at home, a rise of 2.3 per cent compared with last year. There was also a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of students planning to take a "gap year" between school and university.

Tony Higgins, the chief executive of Ucas, said part of the reason for the increase in students living at home was the greater range of courses vaailable at local further education colleges. But he warned: "There are also greater financial pressures for students, which means some will cut their costs by staying at home while studying. The increase in deferred entry applications also shows that more people are taking a year out, either to travel, to gain work experience or to earn some money to help towards their costs at university or college."

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment denied there was any link between student finance and the numbers opting to study at home. He said the figures showed "the continuation of a trend that has been evident for the last 10 years".