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Two female students smiling at each other. They are wearing Air Service Training uniform and are close to an airplane engine.

Photo: City of Glasgow College

A new report from the quality and improvement agency, Education Scotland, has found that colleges across the country are working well with industry to help their students move into employment. It also highlights colleges’ focus on local, regional and national needs. 

The report provides an overview of Education Scotland’s inspectors’ work with colleges over the academic year 2022-23. In her foreword to the report, Chief Inspector of Education, Janie McManus, praises the dedication and adaptability of colleges, saying this provides a strong platform for students to achieve and move forward to other things.  

The period the report covers means it is able to look at how colleges coped with the COVID-19 pandemic and worked to alleviate its effects on students. According to its findings, colleges offered newly enrolled students special support to help them gain confidence in their move to an unfamiliar learning environment. 

In its recommendations, the report points to the challenge of maintaining that support and continuing to look after students’ mental health and wellbeing. Barriers around disability, ethnicity and finance are also identified as areas in need of special focus. 

Jacqui Brasted, SFC’s Interim Director for Access, Learning & Outcomes welcomed the report and said:

“This report covers a period in which colleges were still managing the effects of the pandemic. It confirms that colleges were flexible and responsive in the way they adapted and that they worked hard to support students both during and after the COVID-19 emergency.  

“The report is clear about the need to learn lessons for the future. We understand that need and our strategic plan shows how we will work collectively to build a connected, agile and sustainable tertiary education system.” 

Janie McManus, HM Chief Inspector of Education, said:

“I am pleased to share our annual college sector overview report for the academic year 2022-2023. The report provides detailed observations gathered by HM Inspectors during their visits to Scotland’s colleges.

“During our visits we saw evidence of progress in a number of areas but we also found a number of aspects of college sector performance that need to improve. The overview report clearly sets out the sector’s strengths as well as recommendations for the sector to focus on over the coming year in order to make improvements across key areas.”