Ship no longer looks as steady

The publication today by UCAS of the end of cycle report for the 2014 teacher training admissions scheme has produced some interesting new data that raises questions about some of the assumptions in my previous post. You can find the report in full at:

As this was the first round of the new system it may be dangerous to read too much into the data, and there is no guarantee that this round will be exactly the same as the last one, but if it is then we really do have to start taking the matter of teacher supply seriously.

One key statistic from the UCAS Report was that over the whole cycle 52% of applicants secured a place. As we know, acceptance rates were higher for university courses than for school-based provision. What we didn’t know was that acceptance rates declined the later a person applied in the cycle. Now some of that may be due to courses becoming full between an application and consideration by the course provider. However, I doubt that was responsible for acceptance rates as low as 46% towards the end of the cycle. UCAS note in the report that the former GTTR Scheme had a 43% acceptance rate in 2013, so despite the lower acceptance rate on school-based courses universities do seem to have either had better quality applicants or been willing to take more risks with those that did apply to prevent a greater shortfall in new teacher numbers.

The report also notes that by the end of February, 71% of applications had been received. On that basis the 28,000 or so applicants in the system by mid-March 2015 this year might be joined by another 8,500-9,000 applicants this year during the remainder of the cycle. That would mean more than 4,500 acceptances still to come once all the 28,000 had been processed.

As a result, the missing 5,000 applicants by mid-March 2015 compared with mid-March 2014 may mean a drop of 2,500 in numbers recruited through the admissions process. That’s a scary number and might possibly take recruitment down to no more than 26,000 Trainees. For those that really want to worry, and feel like sleepless nights, I recommend a look at Figure 39 on page 46 of the UCAS report. This shows that acceptance rates fell away sharply after May last year. Now some of that may be due to courses becoming full, but if so there is a need to devise a trading system of spare places to be able to offer candidates in subjects where the overall total won’t be met a place. Just over allocating, the system used by NCTL at present, doesn’t seem to be working.

Whether some courses would remain viable at current levels is a matter for consideration. I wonder whether the NCSL ITT group that met earlier this week have yet discussed safety measures for ensuring providers can stay in the market or whether they are just prepared to let market forces decide where provision is delivered.

Because the admissions system is new, comparisons with previous years are not really possible except on the overall number of applicants. UCAS recorded 54,015 applicants. That is probably the lowest number of graduates applying for teacher training since 2008 when the number was 51,616 through GTTR. Realistically, the overall number was higher that year because the employment-based routes didn’t recruit through UCAS. The last time the number dropped below 50,000 was probably early this century.


6 thoughts on “Ship no longer looks as steady

  1. Hi John,
    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been trying to dig out subject by subject recruitment information, with a particular interest in the state of Computing recruitment – number of government allocated places versus take up. However, the UCAS report doesn’t cover that level of detail. Do you know where I might find this data?

    • Peter, Sorry, I missed your comment when you posted it. IT recruited 519 in 2015 against target of 610 so 85% of places were filled. Data is on NCSL web site. If you email me I will send you the current vacancy data against ITT census number.
      John Howson

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