More students are applying for teacher training and they are better qualified than in previous years, say academics at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. This is because the public now has a more positive view of the profession as a career choice, they say. The institute yesterday announced its best recruitment statistics in several years, including an 11.3 per cent improvement in entrants' average score at A-level and an increase of more than a quarter in applications for places this year through the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Jupas). So Kwok-sang, the institute's registrar, said the figures were good news and showed students had more confidence about entering the teaching profession. 'A few years ago, with all the talk of shrinking classes and closing schools, there had definitely been a drop in applications,' Dr So said. More than 16,600 school-leavers applied to the institute through Jupas - 26 per cent more than last year. Of these, more than 2,400 had it as their first choice, up 52 per cent from last year. The 352 local students accepted to enter the institute next month scored an average of 8.9 points in their best two A-levels, 11.3 per cent better than those who joined last year, Dr So said. The institute compared students' scores in their best two A-level subjects or best A-level and two AS-levels. They were allocated 10 points for an A at A-level and two for an E; the equivalent grades at AS-level were worth five points and one point respectively. Dr So said academic results had not been the only consideration, and students were expected to demonstrate 'whole-person development'. The institute saw a fourfold increase in applications from students on the mainland this year - 459, compared with 88 last year. Of these applicants, 54 were given study places. Lai Kwok-chan, head of strategic and academic planning at the institute, said the boost in applications showed the public recognised the positive job prospects for teachers at the moment.