SO many secondary school teachers have been making enquiries regarding early retirement, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has had to set up a special helpline to deal with their queries.
Peter McMenamin, general secretary of the TUI, said: "We have had hundreds of inquiries. I am presuming not all of these people will go for retirement, but if they did all go at once we would be in serious trouble."
Mr McMenamin said pre-retirement courses organised by unions had been booked out for months, with the change in pension entitlements from next February the main driving force for the exodus.
It is a similar situation in the university sector.
Mike Jennings of the Irish Federation of University Teachers said university HR departments were also experiencing a surge in inquiries about early retirement.
"There has been a big increase in the number of retirements in the past two years and we expect it to be even bigger next year," he said.
Mr Jennings said if a large number of third-level staff were to take early retirement, the courses would have to be slashed.
The Department of Education was unable to provide estimates for the number of teaching staff it expects to leave.