The issue of piled up teaching registration certificate applications at the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) has hit new teachers who are preparing for a new career in the school year starting Wednesday.

Rule is that without a teaching certification no graduate can legally teach in a school. That means, the teachers need to have the teaching registration certification in hand before going to a classroom to teach. It is estimated that the backlog could be around 5,000 applications. The certifications of many graduates are still classed as “pending,” reports ABC News.

VIT is in charge of handling the registration of graduates by verifying evidence of course completion from universities and of collating the reports of police checks. According to a graduate named as Sara, she has been waiting for the teaching registration certificate from VIT for long. Now anxiety is ruining her excitement of starting a new career.

“I can’t sleep at night since I found out,” she said.

“I’m on the phone every day to VIT who still can’t tell me whether or not I will be registered and can teach my class next week,” she added. Since it takes an average six weeks to process an application, Sarah is sore that the new teachers have to wait even after the end of first term.

“I just don’t know what will happen with the school I’ve accepted a job at, if I’m not registered come Wednesday,” she added. The Australian Education Union’s Victorian president Meredith Peace described the situation as unprecedented.

“We haven’t seen in recent years problems with numbers of new graduates unable to get their registration in time, there’s usually one or two but we don’t have significant problems and we have to really ask the question, ‘what is happening this year that’s causing the problems that we’re hearing about?’,” she said.

However, VIT denied reports of backlog in teaching registration certificates. It said applications that remain to be processed are of those who applied late. In some applications, supporting documents are missing. In some others, the education provider has not have provided the evidence of course completion. The VIT said the issue needs to be seen in the larger context of rising number of university graduates registering each year.

Meanwhile, SBS News reports that indigenous Australians are less likely to pursue university education unlike other school leaving Australians. The report noted that indigenous Australians in the age group of 18-29 are less represented in universities but their proportion in vocational education and training (VET) is certainly increasing.