College education could increase Scotland's GDP by as much as 1 per cent, or #163;1.2 billion over an eight-year period, a report by the David Hume Institute has found.
The analysis of further education, the labour market in Scotland and the wider economy found that each cohort of learners who studied at a college boosted their earning and productivity substantially.
It also highlighted that this was being achieved despite the fact that FE was being funded at lower levels per learner than the higher education or secondary sector.
Jeremy Peat, director of the DHI, said the research proved there was a significant return for the sector's work in economic terms, and it was "a sector that matters".
Scotland's Colleges chief executive John Henderson said the work showed the "key role colleges have in economic growth and recovery".
"Colleges are also shown to have strong and valued links with business, helping them adapt to emerging economic needs," he said.