THE number of young people staying on in post-compulsory education in Scotland has risen by 50 per cent in the past 10 years, figures released this week show.
A total of 64 per cent of 16 to 21-year-olds were in some form of full or part-time education in 199899, compared to just 42 per cent 10 years ago.
Higher education showed the biggest boost in numbers - up from 12 per cent to 26 per cent - while those staying on at school rose from 27 to 36 per cent.
Slightly more women than men stayed on in education and there was a large increase in the number of part-time students. The proportion of 21-year-olds in further or higher education more than doubled from 21 per cent to 44 per cent.
But the rise was much less marked in further education alone where the percentage of the age group in full or part-time FE courses went up by just 4 percentage points to 19 per cent.
Deputy minister for enterprise and lifelong learning Nicol Stephen said the figures were encouraging but tat more needed to be done.
He said he hoped the abolition of tuition fees for eligible students studying in Scotland and a pound;50 million package of proposals for student support would help those from disadvantaged backgrounds into further and higher education.
"It is good to see so many young people staying on at school as well as a substantial increase in those participating in some form of full or part-time further and higher education.
"I am confident that the new initiatives put in place by this executive will help us go from strength to strength and develop Scotland as a learning nation."
"But this is just a start. Everyone in Scotland must see education as a right and not just something for the privileged."
The figures show that Scotland has one of the highest rates of education participation in the United Kingdom.
In England, 60 per cent of 18-year-olds were in education or government supported training last year, compared with 63 per cent of Scots.