More college graduates attending Scottish universities

Ayrshire College Image copyright Getty Images

A growing proportion of university students are arriving straight from Scottish colleges, new figures suggest.

Statistics from the Scottish Funding Council show that 26% of new undergraduates from Scotland have previously attended college.

Colleges play an important role in efforts to widen access to higher education.

Sometimes graduates are able to join the second or third year of a university course.

In total, about 4,000 students who started university courses in Scotland during the current academic year came straight from colleges.

Important role

The majority of new undergraduates go straight to university from school - possibly with a gap year first.

But the college system is also playing an increasingly important role, especially in helping people from disadvantaged areas get to university.

It offers support in two ways:

  • Some college students may gain a place at university as a result of their college studies
  • Some colleges and universities have deals in place which allow people who have studied for particular qualifications at college to seamlessly continue their studies on a specific, related university course. Sometimes they can join the second or third year of a course to prevent unnecessary duplication

The minister for further and higher education, Richard Lochhead, said: "I am pleased to see more students entering university having gained a qualification at college, with today's figures showing nearly 2,000 full-time first degree entrants coming from the most deprived areas in 2017-18.

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"This is testament to the role that colleges play in widening access and shows that quality and equality continue to lie at the heart of the college sector."

Prof Andrea Nolan, the convener of Universities Scotland, said: "Today's figures show there are more opportunities than ever before for college students who want to go on to do a degree at university through the fastest route possible.

"In the last year alone, an extra 299 students with Higher Nationals got full credit for their qualification and started direct into the second or third year at university. That's an increase of eight percentage points in just one year."

Life opportunities

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: "Colleges have an intrinsic role in widening access and this report confirms that an increase to over 26% of first degree entrants in 2017-18 had obtained a college qualification before enrolling at a university.

"The overall figures show an increase of more than 10% in the past four years in the number of college students moving directly to second or third year at university.

"Colleges also improve life opportunities for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds by significantly contributing to fairer access."

The Scottish government expects a fifth of new students at each university to come from the most disadvantaged geographical areas of Scotland by 2030.