With SQA exam results out today (Tuesday, 10 August 2021), Colleges Scotland offers congratulations to everyone who has gained a qualification at college or school.  

We would encourage anyone who hasn’t yet decided their next steps to contact their local college for more information about starting a course in 2021 now that they have their results.

Read our  pdf Comment on Results Day - Tuesday 6 August 2021 (133 KB)

By Andy Witty, Director of Sector Policy

Yesterday the Scottish Government, in response to a parliamentary question from Michael Marra MSP, produced some interesting figures showing the per-head spend across the whole of the Scottish education system.

From pre-5 nursery though to college and university, the average expenditure per place for each education level shows at a glance the spend and I would argue investment at each level of the system.

In real terms at 2020-21 prices, college spending per head starts at £4,754 per place in 2010-11, dips to it’s lowest point of 2014-15 at £3,879, and rises again to 2019-20 levels at £4,321. Since 2010-11 then, spending per place on a college student has dropped by 9.1%. It is clear that upwards movement in funding, although not to 2010-11 levels, started when colleges were restructured in 2014 into the organisations we know today, and Colleges Scotland came into existence in 2015, with the ability to advocate for more investment into colleges and our students. Since this low point of per-head funding, colleges have seen an increase of 11.4% in average expenditure per place.

The Scottish Funding Council have published the Widening Access 2019-20 report. This shows that the target on widening access to degree courses has been met two years early, in 2019, well ahead of the target date of 2021. The report also shows that overall in the tertiary education level there is already equality of access for those living in Scotland’s most deprived communities.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has today (Tuesday, 29 June 2021) published its final report on Coherence and Sustainability: A review of Tertiary Education and Research, which began in June 2020 at the request of Scottish Government Ministers. The Review was conducted in three phases and Colleges Scotland has worked closely with colleges and the SFC to put forward the views of the sector at every step in the process.

We are pleased to see that the Report calls for multi-year funding and longer-term planning - the sector has been campaigning for sustainable funding for some time to enable colleges to plan and invest more strategically for our students and staff. The recommendation for a strategic vision for tertiary education will also ensure that the ambitions of the sector are realised. Many of the recommendations in the Review, if enacted, would support economic recovery and allow colleges to realise their potential to deliver world-class education, be anchor institutions in communities, and work more effectively with local, regional and national businesses.

The recommendation to set up a Micro-Credential Framework and Delivery Plan for Scotland is welcome - this would build on the work that colleges already do in terms of training, upskilling, and reskilling to meet the needs of the labour market and technological changes, enabling people to future-proof their careers and learn in a way that suits them. We look forward to working with SFC and the Scottish Government to take forward the recommendations.

Keyfacts 2021 leaflet

This year’s edition of our Keyfacts has been published, containing the latest facts and figures on the college sector in Scotland.  The Keyfacts publication can be viewed in pdf format ( pdf Colleges Scotland Keyfacts 2021 (1.82 MB) ) or as web pages.  Key statistics include:

  • Colleges deliver around 70 million learning hours to 239,004 students
  • 95% of all learning hours lead to a recognised qualification
  • Colleges deliver around a quarter (24%) of all higher education in Scotland
  • College is the most popular destination for those from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds with 38% of school leavers from SIMD20 moving into further education
  • 7% of students are from minority ethnic groups
  • Colleges are the biggest delivery agent of Modern Apprenticeships, supporting 11,013 students
  • 81,795 students are studying as part of their occupation