The number of applicants for teacher training in England fell by 6.5% last year compared with the previous 12 months, according to a new analysis.
But despite the drop in applications, more people were accepted to train.
The figures, from university admissions body UCAS, look at applications both for higher education and schools-based teacher training schemes.
Despite the figures, a Department for Education spokeswoman said teaching remains "hugely popular".
However, teaching union Association of Teachers and Lecturers said the numbers "don't provide reassurance" that the teacher supply crisis is being addressed
UCAS says its calculations differ from previous figures in that they show acceptance rates for teacher training places.
In England 42,400 people applied in 2015 - down 3,000 on 2014.
Of these, 25,300 gained places in 2015 - an acceptance rate of almost 60%.
By contrast, the acceptance rate in 2014 was just over 52% when 23,700 people were given places.
But despite the fall in applications there was a rise of almost 7% in the number of people accepted to train as teachers in England and Wales last year, according to UCAS.
Department for Education figures, published in November, showed targets for the number of new trainee teachers were missed for the third year running.
The government's figure of 28,148 recruits represented 94% of the target, according to that set of figures.
In February a separate report from the National Audit Office said teacher shortages in England were growing with recruitment targets missed for four years.
Teaching unions and academics continue to warn that the existing recruitment crisis is set to intensify as a population bulge is due to begin hitting secondary schools from this autumn.
"While these figures highlight a small rise in the proportion of applicants accepted on teacher training courses, they don't show the rise in numbers needed to combat previously unmet teacher training targets," said Nansi Ellis, Association of Teachers and Lecturers assistant general secretary.
"As February's National Audit Office report highlighted, teacher supply is becoming a critical issue in many schools," said Ms Ellis.
The government should look at factors which deter potential teachers from entering the profession and drive qualified teachers to leave early, she added.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said plenty of people still wanted to teach and "many people relish the chance to change lives on a daily basis".
"There are over 1,000 more graduates training to teach secondary subjects in the 2015-2016 academic year compared to last, including record levels of trainees holding a first-class degree.
"For the first time the majority of teachers are being trained on school-led routes in the classroom from day one and learning from the best teachers.
"The very latest UCAS figures show more people are applying and being accepted on training courses starting in September 2016.
"But we refuse to be complacent.
"That's why we're investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment, including increased bursaries and scholarships, worth up to £30,000 in priority subjects and backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to get great teachers where they are most needed."