THE numbers of students in Scottish colleges has fallen by 152,000 since 2007 but figures for those completing full-time higher education are at record levels.

Figures published yesterday by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) on college performance showed that in 2014-15, 23,717 students successfully completed higher courses, a rise of 22 per cent since 2008-09.

However, the number of students in Scotland’s colleges has dropped by 152,000 since 2007. There were 226,919 students in 2014-15, compared to 379,233 in 2007-08.

Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Angela Constance said: “2015 was a landmark year for Scotland’s young people. A record 34,775 Scots-domiciled students were accepted to university.

“School and college-leaver destinations have been very positive and figures in December showed youth employment at its highest August to October level since 2008. Compared to 2007, the number of learning hours delivered to students with a disability has increased considerably, as have the average hours of learning per student and learning hours leading to a recognised qualification.

“We have also once again comfortably exceeded targets on student numbers.

“These figures suggest our reforms are working and more students successfully completed full-time courses leading to recognised qualifications.”

Teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland warned the Scottish Government’s return to national bargaining in further education will fail unless Constance takes direct action to compel all colleges to sign up.