European funding plays a crucial part in allowing Scotland's further education colleges to target some of the country's most disadvantaged and excluded groups, according to the Association of Scottish Colleges.
The ASC's European unit has just published a comprehensive analysis of European funding in 1998 and 1999. In the first year, colleges secured more than Pounds 28 million, with almost three-quarters coming from the European Social Fund.
This almost doubled in 1999 to Pounds 51 million, with just under 90 per cent coming from the ESF. The colleges helped more than 26,000 students in 1998 through ESF projects and helped an estimated 37,400 in 1999.