Audit Scotland’s Report this year has shown that college student numbers have dropped to a 10-year low.

The Study

According to the annual review by Audit Scotland, Scotland’s college student numbers have dropped to the lowest it has been since the 2006/2007 academic year. It also mentioned that colleges’ financial health has been “relatively stable” from 2006 till 2014, but has since deteriorated.

According to the report, the number of enrolled part-time students dropped by 8 percent since the 2014/2015 academic year. During the same period, full-time student enrollment dropped by 1 percent.

According to Caroline Gardner, the Auditor General: “There is a growing risk to colleges’ ability to keep delivering what the Scottish government requires from the sector as a result of major financial challenges and a declining student population.

“Colleges need to plan ahead so their future budgets can withstand the impact of cost pressures. Demand for college courses and the effects of demographic shifts also need to be assessed so educational provision can be designed around these.”

The report also said that the education sector will still be faces quite a few financial challenges despite that government funding is set to increase in the upcoming academic year.

Comments on the Study

The study has also seemed to spark a debate between the government and some opposition unions and parties. The said opposition unions and parties have used it to argue that the education sector needed more governmental funding. The government has argued against some figures that were used in the study. They said that some of the figures used back in 2006 were “not directly comparable” with some of the data collected recently.

One government spokeswoman also said: “This report highlights that Scotland’s college sector is financially stable overall and that colleges continue to exceed their targets for student learning opportunities. It also identifies areas where improvements can be made.”

Liz Smith, a spokeswoman for “Scottish Conservative education”, said: “These figures show fewer people are entering college than at any time since the nationalists came to power and they have to explain why they’ve let this happen.”

Larry Flanagan EIS’s general secretary, said: “The EIS is concerned with the continuing drop in student numbers which follows on from last year’s similar decline – particularly in the number of part-time students.

“We are concerned that funding across the sector for the year 2017-18 will only increase by 1% after some exceptional capital funding at Forth Valley College is excluded.”


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