More has to be done to ease the transition from FE into HE, the conference heard. The evidence from the newer universities such as Glasgow Caledonian is that those who enter with HNCs and HNDs do at least as well, and sometimes better than other students, Jim Gallacher, co-director of the university's centre for research in lifelong learning, says.
HN courses are seen as a key route into HE for many. They account for a third of young first-time participants in HE and 20 per cent of those on HN courses in colleges are from the most deprived areas.
According to the Association of Scottish Colleges, there are now some 2,000 "articulation routes" from FE to HE.