In 1994, 18 per cent of AAS-level candidates from schools achieved at least 25 points - equivalent to an A and two Bs - compared with 12 per cent of students from FE colleges. Thirty per cent of school candidates and 37 per cent of college candidates gained less than 10 points.
The difference is even more marked among A-level entrants who achieved mainly As and Bs at GCSE. More than half - 51 per cent - achieved a score of 25 points or more, compared with 40 per cent from the FE sector.
Michael Austin, chairman of the Association for Colleges and principal of Accrington and Rossendale College, said the statistics resembled the Government's exam league tables in that they were not comparing like with like. "Generally we are more liberal in our intake. These figures do not take into account how far students travel academically."