Less than half student teachers graduate

Less than half of all teaching students will complete their education degree within six years, if at all.

A Senate committee on Thursday has heard the nationwide teacher shortage has been exacerbated by a dearth of interest in education.

Between 2017 and 2020, the number of students starting teaching degrees declined by eight per cent, and those completing their courses fell 17 per cent.

Now 48 per cent of those who start a three-year education degree will finish within six years.

Though the Albanese government has promised to pay high-achieving school-leavers up to $12,000 a year to undertake teaching degrees, Department of Education secretary Michele Bruniges worries university students may not see it out to the end.

"Starting doesn't mean that students are completing," she told the committee in Canberra.

Education department representatives told senators shortages in teaching have been a problem for the past decade, if not longer.

Science, technology, engineering and maths subjects have suffered more pronounced shortfalls in recent years, while areas that once contended with an oversupply of teachers, such as primary education and humanities, are feeling the pinch.

The sector has also had to deal with a surge in the number of school students.

Between 2021 and 2031, the Department of Education expects primary school enrolments to grow by 11 per cent - an increase of roughly 250,000 students - while high school enrolments will climb by 10 per cent, or about 175,000.

At the federal level, the department has begun work on a draft plan that aims to elevate the status of teaching, improve teacher supply, maximise teaching time, and understand the future needs of the workforce.

But at a state level, many teachers believe governments aren't doing enough.

A NSW government-commissioned survey found two-thirds of public school teachers felt burnt out, and a similar number said they would quit the profession in the next 10 years.

One-in-10 said they planned to quit within one year, and just one-in-five believed they were fairly paid for the work they do.