Graduates of leading research universities are shunning teaching as a career option, and the institutions are doing little to change their minds, according to researchers at the country's leading centre-left think-tank.
Work by Steven Haines and Joe Hallgarten, for the Institute for Public Policy Research, shows that graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton and Bristol universities and some University of London colleges are less likely to go on to postgraduate teacher training than graduates on average.
Dr Hallgarten, a senior research fellow in education at the IPPR, said:
"What we are concerned about is that some universities aren't just neutral brokers in this but they actually discourage some of their students from going into teaching."
Their research shows that 3.7 per cent of graduates were listed under teaching professionals in the Higher Education Statistics Agency's first destinations survey for 1999-2000. The average for the Russell Group universities was 2.9 per cent.
This fell to about 2 per cent of Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol and Imperial College, London, graduates, and about 1 per cent of King's College London, University College London and London School of Economics graduates.
Dr Hallgarten and Dr Haines said that leading universities could do more to encourage graduates into teaching. But they admitted that the public impression of teaching as a low-paid career held in low esteem did little to encourage graduates. They said that graduates of leading universities often had other job opportunities.
Their concern is that graduates of prestigious institutions will continue to shun postgraduate teacher training and that this will mean fewer top-quality teachers.
From Ivory Tower to Chalkface: Recruiting Teachers from Elite Universities is due to be published by the IPPR in about a fortnight.