Colleges are enrolling bumper student numbers on to bakery courses this year, with admissions up between 9% and a staggering 160%.

City of Liverpool Community College reports a 25% rise, with 50 students on year one VRQ Level 3 Diploma Food Manufacture and 38 students on year two VRQ Level 3 Diploma and more on a waiting list.

Bakery co-ordinator Eve Cottrell said: "There’s a greater interest in baking and we’re seeing an increased number of school-leavers, while mature students are those looking for a career change or have been affected by the credit crunch."

Tameside College of Technology in Manchester has seen a slight increase in numbers, up from 22 to 24 on its Bakery NVQ Level 1 and from 20 to 28 on the Level 1 in cake decoration, while Blackpool & The Fylde College reported a steady rise in numbers, with 29 students on bakery courses last year and 34 this year.

University College Birmingham is enjoying the best enrol-ment it has seen for years, with 73 full-time students (Levels 1 2 and 3) and 41 on part-time courses all doing a Food Manufacture (Bakery) qualification.

David Mizon teaches at The Sheffield College, where numbers on the bakery course have risen from 10 to 26 this year, with a 50:50 split between school-leavers and post-19 students. "While colleges themselves haven’t done that much promotion, there has been more about bakery in the media and the Hairy Bakers have also helped raise its profile," he said. "Bakery has also benefited as people are being encouraged by job centres to train."

However, there is one exception as only nine students are doing a VRQ course at Brooklands College down from 35 last year and 60 who did NVQs in 2006.

Tutor Jane Hatton said low numbers in the last two years were due to the college deciding to cut bakery out of the curriculum for catering students. "Last year they allowed us to run a sugarcraft VRQ as well, but this year they have not allowed us to do this. Students now on a full-time programme are only in two days a week."