Profile of higher education in Scotland
2.23 When Robbins reported in 1963, there were four universities, thirteen central institutions, and seven teacher education colleges delivering higher education programmes in Scotland. Further education colleges played a very limited role and, as such, merited barely a mention. Higher education continues to be delivered across a range of institutions today, but both the sector and institutional profiles and roles have changed significantly. We outline below a description of Scottish higher education institutions and further education colleges and profile the subjects available.
2.25 There are 23 institutions of higher education in Scotland which, between them, deliver 83 per cent of the full-time provision and 58 per cent of the part-time provision:
2.26 These institutions, listed in Annex F, cover a wide range of educational and research activity. Four of the universities are over four hundred years old, and where appropriate, we have characterised these as the 'ancient' universities. Four other universities trace their origins to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We classify these as 'old' universities for the purposes of this report. A separate category, 'pre-1992' universities, combines these groups when appropriate. A third category of university, the 1992 universities is made up of the five new universities created under the 1992 legislation.
2.27 Of the six higher education colleges, three are multi-faculty institutions, two are specialist art schools, and one is Scotland's only conservatoire. Two of the colleges, Queen Margaret College and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, have degree-awarding powers whilst the rest have their courses validated by a university or by a degree-awarding body. There are three monotechnic teacher education colleges in Scotland. The Open University in Scotland delivers the full range of the University's courses in Scotland.
2.29 Scottish higher education institutions differ greatly in terms of numbers of students enrolled. The universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Strathclyde each have over 16,000 students. The remaining universities range in size from Glasgow Caledonian with over 12,000 students to Abertay Dundee with approximately 4,000 students. The colleges of higher education are generally smaller than the universities with most having fewer than 3,000 students. The smallest colleges are the Scottish College of Textiles, with less than 800 students and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, which has about 400 students.17 Over 14,100 undergraduate and postgraduate students are enrolled in the Open University almost all of whom study on a part-time basis.
2.30 Chart 2.1 shows the distribution of students by institution types and mode of study based upon headcounts in 1994-95. Chart 2.2 shows the same information using full-time equivalent (FTEs) student numbers.18
2.32 Other subjects attracting a higher proportion of students across the sector include Engineering and Technology, Social Studies and Law. It is worth noting that Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences are exclusively the preserve of the pre-1992 universities, but the new universities offer a great deal of provision in Professions Allied to Medicine.
Level of study
Further education colleges
2.35 Nearly 17 per cent
of all full-time undergraduate and postgraduate provision
and nearly 42 per cent of all part-time provision in
Scotland is offered at one of the further education
colleges. In total, these colleges deliver more than 25
per cent of all Scottish higher education provision,
which is double the contribution of the further education
sector elsewhere in the UK.19 The further
education sector clearly makes an important contribution
to the provision of higher education in Scotland.
2.37 Further education colleges vary in their size and the proportion of higher education they offer. The largest is Aberdeen College with almost 5,000 students. Several other colleges including Bell College of Technology and Fife College of Further and Higher Education have over 2,000 students. However, a significant proportion of further education colleges have fewer than 1,500 students with several having less than 700.21
2.38 The provision of higher education programmes and courses is particularly substantial in five further education colleges. One college, Bell College of Technology, offers exclusively higher education provision. Other colleges with more than 30 per cent higher education as part of their provision include Central College of Commerce, Glasgow College of Building and Printing, Fife College of Further and Higher Education and Stow College. These colleges are also amongst the largest in Scotland.
Level of study