Quality and equality improve in colleges

Latest figures for 2016-17 published by Scottish Funding Council.

The diversity of Scotland’s colleges is increasing, latest figures show.

In 2016-17 a higher proportion of learning hours were delivered to older students, people with a declared disability, from the most deprived areas and from a black and minority ethnic background.

And the number of credits delivered to college students reporting a care-experienced background increased to a record high.

In 2016-17 the college sector delivered 117,502 full-time equivalent (FTE) college places - exceeding the Scottish Government’s commitment to deliver 116,000 FTE college places each year.

The Scottish Funding Council statistics also show the proportion of activity delivered to students studying for a recognised qualification reached its highest ever level last year.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said Scotland’s colleges played a vital role in widening access to further and higher education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ms Somerville said:

“Over the last decade, Scotland’s colleges have undergone a transformation. They are now delivering more recognised qualifications to students from an increasingly diverse range of backgrounds.

“This report shows two things, that the quality of learning at our colleges has never been higher and also that the college sector has equality firmly established at its heart – something we highlighted in a recent Government report.

“Given that nearly three-quarters of these students study part-time, colleges provide an important route into further and higher education for many people with jobs or with caring commitments.

“The FE sector is playing a key role in widening access to further study for all different types of people across the country regardless of their circumstances or background.

“These statistics show our colleges continuing to go from strength to strength and I look forward to working alongside them as we build on this progress.”


The Scottish Government recently published a policy paper setting out the achievements of the college sector in recent years. Scotland’s Colleges: Delivering for All can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.

The Scottish Funding Council statistical publication ‘College Statistics 2016-17’ is available to view online.

Statistics include:

  • In 2016-17 97.4% of learning hours were delivered on courses that led to a recognised qualification – an 8.7 percentage point increase since 2006-07.
  • For those aged 25 and older, the number of funded full-time enrolments has increased by 41.9% (to 19,175), since 2006-07.
  • 17.2% of all credits (a proxy for learning hours) were delivered to students from the 10% most deprived areas in 2016-17 – an increase of 0.3 percentage points from 2015-16.
  • 17.1% of all learning hours were delivered to students with a declared disability in 2016-17 - an increase of 0.3 percentage points from 2015-16.
  • The proportion of learning hours delivered to students from BME backgrounds is at its highest level ever - 6.4% in 2016-17.
  • The proportion of credits delivered to students reporting a care-experienced background reached 1.6% in 2016-17, the highest on record.


Media enquiries

Back to top