Postgraduates joining teacher training could face £3,000 fees bill

Trainee teachers will be charged up to £3,000 a year in top-up fees from 2006, ministers confirmed yesterday, sparking fears that teacher recruitment could stall.

Currently the fee for the postgraduate teacher training courses is met by the state, but under the new top-up fee regime trainee teachers will be liable to the same charges as undergraduates, the minister for higher education, Kim Howells, said yesterday.

Teacher unions and representatives of opposition parties called for a rethink, claiming it would deter graduates from becoming teachers.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that the move was disappointing.

“Teachers do not earn large salaries. We need more teachers and this is likely to serve as further discouragement to entering the profession,” he said.

“Young people who have done a three-year undergraduate course are likely to look twice at taking on a further year with the additional top-up fees this will cost.”

The Department for Education and Skills said that teacher recruitment was buoyant, with 34,000 people entering initial teacher training last year – the most since 1975.

A spokesman told the Guardian that it was awaiting the results of an inquiry into the impact of fees on public service recruitment and would consider whether to change the maintenance support system for trainee teachers.

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