Part-time study on the wane

May 30, 1997

THE GAP between the number of Scottish full-time and part-time higher education students has been widening since the late 1980s, with no sign of any significant overall increase in part-time study.

This surprise finding comes in a report to the Scottish Office Education and Industry Department by researchers in Edinburgh University's centre for educational sociology and centre for continuing education.

The report, Part-Time Higher Education in Scotland, will be launched at a conference next month, and will reveal that part-time higher education as a proportion of total provision dropped from 32 per cent to 26 per cent in the decade to 1994.

Part-time undergraduate numbers have risen by only 13 per cent in higher education institutions since 1984, compared with a 56 per cent rise in full-timers. There has been a bigger rise among part-time higher education students in FE colleges of 21 per cent, but this compares with a dramatic 229 per cent increase among full-time students.

Commitment to part-time higher education is patchy. The report says the Open University in Scotland has been the dominant provider of part-time degrees.

Tom Schuller, director of the centre for continuing education, and one of the researchers, said even when students did not go on to well-paid jobs they felt they benefitted socially and personally.

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