Record Higher Education Figures

George parliamentThe number of Higher Education students studying full time for recognised qualifications at colleges has grown by 22 per cent since 2008-09.

Figures published today by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) on college performance show that in 2014-15, 23,717 students successfully completed such courses at that level, the highest ever number.

Successful full-time Further Education course completion is also 5.2 percentage points higher than in 2008-09, while there were 119,078 funded full time equivalent students at college last year, over 3,000 more than the Scottish Government target of 116,000.

Figures also released today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show there has been more Scottish-domiciled full-time first degree entrants to Scottish universities compared to last year.

Overall enrolments at Scottish institutions are up one per cent, compared to a two per cent drop in England. First degree qualifiers from Scottish universities are comparable to last year, compared to a seven per cent drop in England.

Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, said:

‘Changes in our college system are paying off.  Concentrating on courses which produce recognised qualifications are important.  It provides standards that are easily understood by employers enabling students to develop and grow within their chosen fields.

‘This is all part of the government’s focus on creating and supporting courses, increasing the time spent in college, producing students that are prepared for life and their career.

‘In the past this was not always the case.  Students must be allowed to study in their chosen field but we must never forget the skills that are needed in our local communities must have a place within the education system.

‘These figures are very positive and we must be vigilant to ensure this progress continues.’

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said:

“2015 was a landmark year for Scotland’s young people. A record 34,775 Scots-domiciled students were accepted to university. School and college leaver destinations have been very positive, and figures in December showed that youth employment was at its highest August to October level since 2008.

“A year ago we were also looking at record rates of successful completion in our colleges and today’s figures show continuing high standards across the board, particularly when compared to 2008-09. The ambitious changes in our college system continue to bed in following a period of intensive reform and will ensure colleges are focused on our economic growth.

“Compared to 2007, the number of learning hours delivered to students with a disability has increased considerably, as have the average hours of learning per student and learning hours delivered on courses leading to a recognised qualification. We have also once again comfortably exceeded targets on full time equivalent college student numbers.

“These figures suggest that our reforms are working and that more students successfully completed full-time courses leading to recognised qualifications that would lead to additional study or to relevant training or work.

“Today’s university student numbers back up last month’s record UCAS figures and complement our continuing delivery of free tuition for Scottish undergraduate students, sparing them from the additional debt incurred by having to pay fees.

“When compared to a two per cent drop in English domiciled enrolments at English universities and a seven per cent drop in first degree qualifiers in England, the HESA figures clearly show a strong performance for students in Scotland. As highlighted in last month’s draft budget, we will continue to invest heavily in further and higher education to ensure Scotland remains a word class place to study.”