28 January 2020

Despite increases to student numbers since 2017-18, headcount is still down by almost 100,000 since 2007, when the SNP came to power. This is equivalent to a decrease of 27.1%.

And although enrolment rates have also increased on last year, these too, are down on 2006-07, with almost 140,000 fewer students enrolling for courses in 2018-19 than in 2006-07.

An attainment gap of over 3% exists between students from the 10% most deprived postcode areas, and all students enrolled on courses lasting 160 hours or more. Attainment gaps also exist for disabled students and those who are care experienced.

The attainment rate for full-time further education has decreased by 0.9 percentage points compared with 2017-18, and is still some distance from the Scottish Funding Council’s target attainment rate of 75% by 2020-21.

The most recent data from the Scottish government on school leaver destinations indicated that the most common destination for leavers from the most deprived areas was Further Education at 37.7 per cent.

Labour said the SNP government had to ensure Scotland’s colleges have the resources to meet the SFC’s attainment targets as well as continuing work to increase enrolment rates.

Commenting, Scottish Labour education spokesperson Iain Gray said:

“The sustained lack of investment in Scotland’s colleges cannot continue any longer.

“Despite increases to student numbers and enrolments compared with last year, there is still some way to go – headcount is still down by almost 100,000 since the SNP came to power.

“Meanwhile, the attainment gap for the poorest students, as well as for disabled and care experienced students, continues to be extremely disappointing.

“The sector is also failing to make gains towards the attainment target for full time further education set by the Scottish Funding Council.

“Colleges are the most common destination for those from deprived backgrounds and funding allocations to colleges in the upcoming budget must reflect the importance of these institutions to society.
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