Falling figures in teacher education at university colleges

Summary

Fewer students are enrolling in teaching programme in higher education, with some directors thinking it’s because of the new mandatory enrolment exam

‘They don’t have the patience for it’

The introduction of a compulsory entry test for aspiring educators appears to be discouraging secondary school graduates from enrolling in teacher training programmes. An investigation by the newspaper De Morgen has revealed that university colleges are seeing much lower enrolment numbers for the upcoming academic year than in previous years.

“We saw an increase last year, but this year we’re going backwards,” Ben Lambrechts, general-director of Hasselt’s PXL University College told the newspaper. He attributed the decrease to the introduction of a non-binding entry test for students wanting to start teaching studies.

This year marks the first year that the test is mandatory – though the institution does not have to use the results to decide which students are allowed to enrol in the course. However, said Lambrechts, “when the students get results that are little bit disappointing, they just don’t register for the degree programme.”

Lode De Geyter, director-general of University College West Flanders (HoWest), said that many potential students simply don’t want to take the test – which lasts one to three hours depending on the degree desired – at all. “A lot of students just don’t have the patience for it – especially during the holidays.”

The enrolment figures for teacher-training programmes at local university colleges have dropped 15% over the last 5 years, and this when many schools are expected to struggle to fill teaching positions in the coming years due to a demographic boom. According to estimates from the Flemish education department, the teacher shortage is expected to grow to 20,000 across the region by 2020.

Photo courtesy AP Hogeschool