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Home Publication Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2017

Equality in colleges in Scotland: statistical report 2017

Published: 04/09/2017

ECU's report into the equality challenges facing colleges in Scotland

This sixth statistical report for colleges presents an equality-focused analysis of 2015/16 further education statistics (FES) collated by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Data and analysis are provided on age, disability, ethnicity and gender, the intersections of these identities, and on the optional protected characteristics religion and sexual orientation. The report also considers students’ socioeconomic class, based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and presents high-level regional data analysis. This report, alongside information gathered by colleges at local level, will continue to provide an evidence base to assist colleges to identify and tackle equality challenges. It will also assist the sector to further develop and assess progress against appropriate equality outcomes and embed equality in regional outcome agreements with the SFC.

This year ECU’s research team have also created some infographics using data from the 2017 Scottish college statistical report. We encourage you to download the infographics and use them in your institutions.

Downloadable data tables 

National data tables All data tables presented in this report are also available to download in Excel format. These provide totals for each table, higher and further education (HE and FE) specific breakdowns for regional data and further disaggregate data on ethnicity.

Regional data tables In addition to national figures, we have also produced corresponding data tables for multi-college and merger regions. These aim to support regional benchmarking and assist colleges to identify equality challenges at a regional level, particularly where data systems are in the process of being aligned.

Key data notes and changes

  • The report presents data for student enrolments not student head count.
  • FES data includes enrolments on non-SFC funded courses, for which information on student characteristics, is not collected as part of the FES returns. With respect to age, disability and gender, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has estimated data for enrolments on non-SFC funded courses by apportioning this information for each college based on the composition of SFC funded course enrolments at that college for which data is known. This information has been included in this report. Therefore, the age, disability and gender sections of this report contain some data which have not been self-reported by students.
  • The report presents data on students’ level of study by HE and FE level. Within HE and FE levels, data are presented across the 12 levels of the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF), which cover mainstream qualifications across education providers in Scotland. The levels provide an indication of the complexity of qualifications and programmes studied, with SCQF level 1 being the least demanding and SCQF level 12 the most demanding. Levels presented in this report are as follows:


  • SCQF 11–12
  • SCQF 9–10
  • CQF 8
  • SCQF 7
  • other HE students


  • SCQF 6
  • SCQF 5
  • SCQF 4
  • SCQF 3
  • SCQF 2
  • SCQF 1
  • other FE students
  • In this report, there have been significant changes to the presentation of ‘level of study’ tables by excluding types of qualification, which were included in the 2016 statistical report, due to the complexity of presenting a number of qualification aims that apply to both, HE and FE at different SCQF levels. Therefore, data in ‘level of study’ tables in this report are not comparable to previous reports.
  • There have also been changes to the ‘other HE’ and ‘other FE’ categories. While in prior reports students studying programmes outside the SCQF levels were grouped into an ‘other’ category, and students in professional bodies were included in a separate category, in this report the ‘other’ categories capture students enrolled on non SFC-funded courses and incorrect data returns. These categories are therefore incomparable to previous reports.
  • There have been significant changes to the presentation of subject areas in this report. Previous reports followed the subject groupings utilised by the SFC and presented data on the subjects studied across HE/FE and SCQF levels, with different groupings for HE and FE levels and no split between SET (science, engineering and technology) and non-SET areas at FE level.
  • This report presents superclass subjects that apply to both HE and FE levels, split between STEM superclass subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-STEM superclass subjects. These data are not comparable with data provided in subject area tables in previous reports. The categories are organised as follows:

STEM superclass subjects:

  • construction
  • engineering
  • information technology
  • sciences and mathematics
  • other STEM

Non-STEM superclass subjects:

  • agriculture, horticulture and animal care
  • area studies/cultural studies/languages/literature
  • arts and crafts
  • authorship/photography/publishing/media
  • business/management/office studies
  • catering/food/leisure services/tourism
  • education/training/teaching
  • environment protection/energy/cleansing/security
  • family care/personal development/personal care and appearance
  • health care/medicine/health and safety
  • humanities (history/archaeology/religious studies/philosophy)
  • manufacturing/production work
  • oil/mining/plastics/chemicals
  • performing arts
  • politics/economics/law/social sciences
  • sales, marketing and distribution
  • services to industry
  • sports, games and recreation
  • transport services
  • other non-STEM