VET: 1.323 students do not get desired place but 4.000 vacancies still open
Education Dpt announces agreement for 5 new publicly funded auxiliary nursing classes to accommodate 264 students left without a place
BarcelonaThe information on enrolment for Vocational Education and Training (VET) has been made public. After two rounds for students to sign up, up to 1.323 young people have been left without a spot on the course they had applied for. Nevertheless, they could take a different course, as there are still almost 4,000 spots left on courses with lower demand. This data has been given by the Catalan Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, in an appearance in Parliament in which he took pride in achieving the commitment he made a fortnight ago: no applicants who signed up in the normal period was "left without a place on a VET course". However, he did not say that this might mean students end up studying something different to what they originally applied for; or that they will study in overcrowded classrooms, thus increasing the risk of drop-outs.
Behind the big headlines there are personal stories. In June, 12,611 people were left without a place on the VET courses they had applied for. These studies, which can be started after compulsory secondary education, have had 23% more applications than last year, a sudden and unexpected increase, because half of the 34,000 people who signed up did not come from the last year of secondary school and one in four was over 20 years old. When a new call for applications was announced in September, half of those who had been left without a place did not sign up again, either because they had found work, ended up choosing furthering their regular studies or, in the worst case, gave up (and now do nothing). Of the 5,962 people who enrolled in the extraordinary call to apply for one of the 4,000 extra places at stake, 3.592 had already applied in June and, therefore, had priority. Of these, "only" 618 will not be able to study the course they applied for.
Of these youngsters without a place, 264 had asked to study auxiliary nursing, the most demanded course (it has received 20% of inscriptions), the council has announced that it will open five more groups, that is to say, 165 places, in publicly funded centres in Barcelona and Vallès Occidental. Precisely, the Christian School Foundation, which groups 434 Catalan publicly funded centres, reproached the Government last week for rejecting its offer to expand FP places. The Education Department hopes to guide those left without a place towards courses which have little demand, in which there are still 1,902 vacancies, or towards the Open Institute of Catalonia, where they can study from home.
705 people without a place on upper VET courses
Upper VET courses, which students can start after baccalaureate or doing a lower VET course, are a different story. Cambray had already warned that, as happens at universities, it is not possible to guarantee everyone a place. He added that of the 13,794 people who had been left without a place in the ordinary process in June, only 1,985 reapplied for a place in September; the rest could have chosen to go to university. Most have already been assigned a place, but there are 705 who have no place on the course they had applied for. The Department will try to "relocate" them in the 2,029 places that have become vacant on courses with less demand.
The management of VET courses, which has marked the beginning of this school year, has been criticised by all opposition parties and described as a "resounding failure" and "chaos". Cambray has admitted that the Government has "room for improvement" and has announced some changes for next year. One of the most important is to ensure that last year compulsory education students who want to go on to VET get a place in the field they choose. The pre-enrolment calendar will also be moved forward to March to "adapt" the offer during the usual process and avoid extraordinary calls, such as the one that was created this year. To avoid mismatches between supply and demand, Cambray has also said that guidance will be improved from the beginning of secondary school, hand in hand with the Department of Business and Labour, employer associations and trade unions.