Figures from the FE funding council for 2001-02 show that more than half of teaching staff are in temporary posts - 8,183 out of a total of 14,542.
But Tom Kelly, chief officer of the Association of Scottish Colleges, maintains that it is the teaching load that matters. Actual staff numbers, as expressed in terms of full-time equivalent posts, show a total headcount of 6,675, of whom 1415 are in temporary posts. Just 21 per cent of the teaching load.
"You would expect to have a large number of specialists who are required but not needed for the full course," Mr Kelly said.
The association is looking jointly with the unions at the implications of the EU fair treatment directive.