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Scotland’s colleges have successfully supported students to complete their studies and gain qualifications despite the effects of the global pandemic.

The evidence comes in the latest annual analysis of college performance to be carried out by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Despite some necessary allowances to the pandemic, including a delayed publication date, the report represents the fullest possible picture of colleges’ work in the last academic year.

Of the full-time higher education students able to be included in the report, over 73 per cent had successfully completed their course. For those studying on a further education course, the corresponding figure was over 65 per cent. For both further and higher education students, the numbers leaving their course before completion were down on last year, possibly due to the effects of the pandemic.

The report also shows that, despite the difficulties of the past year, colleges exceeded the national target for student places by almost 1,400 full-time equivalent places.

There was also positive news in progress towards breaking down the barriers to education faced by care-experienced students whose likelihood of completing a course is statistically less than their peers. In 2019-20 the success rate for this group increased by almost 1 per cent and the numbers of those leaving their course went down by over 3.5 per cent.

Commenting on the report, James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Colleges have been operating in the most challenging of circumstances and have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure all students have had the best possible opportunity to reach their potential.

“This report shows the extent of what they have achieved and underlines the partnership which has existed across colleges, government and the Scottish Funding Council to support learners and learning at this most important time.”