An analysis of colleges' strategies up to 1997-98 reveals they plan to increase full-time provision by a fifth at time when the number of 16 to 18-year-olds will rise by just 5 per cent.
So unless the sector can manage to entice a higher proportion of students away from school sixth forms, adults will be the focus for expansion, says the Further Education Funding Council paper which is based on data submitted by colleges last July.
The shift to older students may be forced on colleges if the trend towards more students staying in school for general national vocational qualifications continues.
Relatively few institutions plan to withdraw qualifications up to 1998, while many plan new ones. Three institutions plan to axe health and community care courses and science programmes.