Some 2,285 students received level 2 qualifications (equivalent to GCSE) this year, compared to 1,355 in 1997 and 1,738 in 1996. At level 3 (equivalent to A-level) there were 1,379 awards. This compares with only 886 last year and 973 in 1996.
Colleges account for a little over half of the candidates at these levels in Wales - substantially more than in England.
The average A-level points score for candidates taking two or more subjects was 15 (where A = 10 and E = 2), which compares with 16 in schools.
Huw Evans, principal of Coleg Llandrillo, said the rise in vocational awards might be because colleges aimed to place students on the courses best for them. But he warned against comparing school and college performances. "Often colleges run second-chance programmes for those who find school inappropriate or for those who have dropped out. So we are dealing with a different clientele."
College results, page 10