A record number of young people are studying full-time at college, according to figures.
A total of 61,304 people aged 16-24 were on a full-time, funded college course in 2011-12, up from 59,605 the previous year.
The Scottish Funding Council says 281,617 students enrolled in college for the current academic year, including 86,884 studying full-time, although the figures include some who dropped out at an early stage.
The Scottish Government commitment to maintain student numbers so colleges have the equivalent of 116,000 full-time students has also been met. In 2011-12 the equivalent of 119,448 full-time learners were at college.
More students are achieving their qualifications at college, the figures also show. In 2011-12 almost two-thirds of full-timers (64%) studying towards a recognised qualification successfully completed their course, up from three-fifths (60%) in 2009-10. Meanwhile, around two-thirds (65%) of students from the most deprived areas successfully completed their course.
Education Secretary Mike Russell hailed the figures as "excellent news for Scotland's college sector". He said: "Not only are our student numbers targets being exceeded but more young people than ever before are benefiting from full-time courses and more are successfully completing their studies. This is especially true for young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds."
The Scottish Government's commitment to the further education sector is "clear", Mr Russell insisted. He added: "We have increased funding by £61 million over the spending review period, compared to plans in the draft Budget statement and we are giving the sector the necessary framework for better college governance through the Post 16 Education Bill. Today's figures show we are creating an improved college system from a position of real strength."
But Labour education spokesman Hugh Henry said the "shameful reality" is that 121,000 fewer people are studying at college than in 2007 when the SNP took power. He said: "This is another attempt by the SNP to cook the books, this time on college students. They are trying to hide the shameful reality of 121,000 fewer students in our colleges compared to when the SNP came to power. Their artificial target ignores the massive cuts in the numbers of part-time students which is hitting hardest in our poorest communities."
Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said: "It is deeply concerning to note that there were 60,000 fewer students studying in our colleges in 2011-12 compared to the previous year. Some of that fall has been as a result of greater focus on the provision of full-time vocational courses for which the completion rates are, encouragingly, very much better.
"However, this is no consolation to the thousands of part-time students who are struggling to get a college place. They know only too well that since the SNP came to power in 2007, total student numbers in our colleges have fallen by more than 120,000 and that colleges have been so badly affected by successive savage spending cuts. At a time when employers are asking colleges to provide more courses which reflect the diverse needs of the working population, the decline in overall student numbers is a major concern."