More than 30,000 part-time places have been axed in colleges in the north and north-east.
New figures lodged at the Scottish Parliament revealed that 20,063 places had been cut in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire since 2008 and replaced with 499 full-time places.
A total of 11,266 part-time places at eight colleges in the Highlands, islands and Moray have been scrapped and replaced with 906 full-time places.
The figures showed that more part-time college courses have been axed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire than in any other part of Scotland.
North-east Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone described the situation as “shameful”.
“Hundreds of local people are being denied the opportunity to study in a way which is flexible to them,” he added.
“Yet again, the SNP government has effectively slammed the door on the face of opportunity.
“Most people just want to get on in life – but the SNP have denied them this right.
“With the slashing of college places, it’s no great surprise that businesses are increasingly worried about the skills gap.”
The figures presented to Holyrood’s public audit committee showed that 150,943 part-time college places had been lost throughout Scotland since 2008 and replaced with 9,217 full-time places.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the Federation of Small Businesses had reported that one in three of its members were worried that they were unable to recruit enough skilled staff to expand.
But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed college sector reform was about making sure students were coming out with the skills, training and qualifications which better equipped them for the jobs market.
She added that Scotland had the lowest level of youth unemployment in six years and the highest ever level of female employment.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it had exceeded its target to maintain the number of full-time equivalent students in each of the last three years.
“We have made courses that improve a student’s employability our focus, with the average hours of education a student receives increasing from 250 to almost 400 under this government,” she added.