Secondary Teacher Education in RRR Australia - A Profession with a Crisis to Remedy

29 Oct 2019

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The Secondary Teacher Education: A View from the Regions report, prepared by KPMG for the Regional Universities Network (RUN), shows that the existing shortage of secondary teachers in regional, rural and remote (RRR) Australia is about to get worse, and policy interventions are urgently required to address the situation.

The Chair of RUN, Professor Helen Bartlett, said that graduation rates and commencing enrolments for secondary teacher education students are in decline, more acutely at regional universities than elsewhere, and are likely to worsen.

“RRR areas of Queensland, NSW and Victoria are already experiencing acute shortages in STEM and language disciplines, and an insufficient number of teacher education students are coming through the pipeline” Professor Bartlett said.

“At a time when schooling systems are growing in NSW, Victoria and Qld, negative perceptions around the teaching profession have added to the declining interest in studying teacher education. Perceptions of declining prestige, recognition and future career prospects, and a focus on ATARs, have all been detrimental.

“The report recommends that policy leadership, student attraction, curriculum innovation, and re-engaging the dormant workforce are ways to address the crisis” Professor Bartlett said.

“Consistent with the National Regional, Rural and Remote (RRR) Tertiary Education Strategy’s recommendations to support a focus on RRR education, RUN recommends that the issue of teaching workforce is addressed by COAG to ensure a unified policy solution. Priority areas for COAG’s attention would include: encouraging student uptake of teacher education; addressing the shortage of specialist teachers; and reconceptualising admission standards for teacher education programs.”

A summary of the report’s key findings and recommendations are attached. The report is available at

Contact: Dr Caroline Perkins

Executive Director, Regional Universities Network, 0408 482 736

KPMG contacts: Professor Stephen Parker, National Lead Partner, KPMG, 0418 258669; Ian Hawke, Director, Management Consulting, KPMG, 0419 024125

Find out more about the Regional Universities Network at 

Follow us on: Twitter: @RegUniNet


Issued by: Bernadette Smon, RUN Media Adviser, 0478 495 457;





The existing shortage of secondary teachers in regional, rural and remote Australia, particularly in STEM and languages, is about to get worse due to:

  • a decline in commencement numbers at undergraduate and graduate entry levels in teacher education courses, most acutely at regional universities, and a decline in completions;
  • population growth driving secondary school expansion in NSW, Victoria and Qld;
  • negative perceptions that the profession has declining prestige, recognition and future career prospects relative to other professions;
  • negative perceptions about the students who undertake teacher education courses;
  • minimum ATAR entry standards for teacher education courses in some jurisdictions e.g. Victoria; and
  • a significant dormant workforce of at least 30,000 teachers in NSW, Victoria and Qld not currently working at a school.


Consistent with the National Regional, Rural and Remote (RRR) Tertiary Education Strategy’s recommendations to support a focus on RRR education:

Commonwealth/State governments, including through COAG, working with regional universities and employers, should take steps to address the broad shortage of secondary teacher education graduates in RRR Australia, including the shortage of specialist STEM and language teachers, and respond to workforce needs including through:

  • taking strategic initiatives, targeted to both undergraduate and graduate entry programs, including the provision of scholarships, to encourage students into relevant courses;
  • developing effective strategies to meet the future demand for specialist teachers;
  • reconceptualising admission standards for entry into teacher education programs;
  • considering ways in which the pipeline of graduate entry teachers transitional to the workforce can be accelerated to assist with acute shortages;
  • progressing discussion on the skills needs of the teaching profession; and
  • addressing workforce management challenges.

State governments and professional bodies, working with regional universities should:

  • undertake research to discover the extent to which a solution to current teacher shortages may be found by re-engaging with the large number of registered teachers not currently employed as teachers; and
  • consider curriculum innovation to facilitate faster transition for mature age entrants into the teaching profession in recognition that the current two year study options for mature age students have acted as a disincentive.

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