Scotland's further education colleges last year combated government cuts by raising more than Pounds 132 million in external funds, a rise of 6.5 per cent on the previous year.
The first Scottish edition of Noble's Further Education Financial Yearbooks, produced by the independent Edinburgh-based finance house Noble Group, shows that in 1998, the Scottish further education sector had a total income of more than Pounds 390 million, two thirds of which came from the Scottish Office. Although government funds dropped that year by 2.3 per cent, total income rose by 0.6 per cent, says the yearbook, which is based on college accounts.
Education and training contracts were up by 2.1 per cent, tuition fees by 5 per cent, and investment income by 23.4 per cent. There was also a 5.6 per cent increase in non-education income, including an 11 per cent rise from catering and residence services.
The yearbook shows a 2.4 per cent drop in staff costs, which account for 60 per cent of college spending. The average cost of employing a staff member has fallen from Pounds 23,088 to Pounds 22,945. Colleges' debt levels rose by 18.4 per cent between 1997 and 1998, but this is much lower than the previous year when debt more than doubled.