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The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has published its latest report on the outcomes of people leaving college.

Covering the academic year 2021-22, its findings reflect the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on day-to-day learning, individual students and the economy’s ability to provide employment.

Its authors note that students whose next steps are analysed in the report were likely to have had the final phase of their school lives disrupted by the pandemic. Those on courses such as construction and social care may have been unable to access the facilities needed to practice their skills or to undertake a work placement.

The report shows how these and other factors worked through into the national picture. Although 86% of people leaving college in 2021-22 moved on to a positive destination, this was five per cent lower than in the previous year. The downward pattern was the same at all levels of qualification but was more pronounced for those leaving with FE level qualifications.

Despite the tough jobs market, some leavers benefitted from having the right qualification at the right time. The proportion of students leaving college with an HE-level qualification in construction and finding employment rose by 17.5%. Those with the same level of qualification in hospitality and tourism benefitted from a 13% rise.

The report uncovers a play-off in the patterns of leavers moving on to either work or further studies. In subjects with a notable increase in college leavers finding work, the figures often reflect a corresponding fall in the proportion going to university.

Commenting on the findings, Martin Boyle, Director of Policy, Insight and Analytics at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“SFC’s college leaver destination reports go back almost a decade and give us a detailed understanding of where people are three to six months after qualifying. As you would expect, the reports covering the duration of the pandemic do not follow the norms established in earlier years and reflect the exceptional circumstances of the time.

“This latest report includes learners whose transition between school and college was disrupted and whose college experiences continued to be influenced by the pandemic.

“Despite these challenges, colleges worked flexibly, creatively and with compassion to support their students and to give them the best possible chance of moving forward”.