Local data shows college enrollment is dropping nationwide

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 5:23 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Traditionally, when an economic recession hits, enrollment in colleges and universities goes up across the nation. However, new data compiled at the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center shows that the opposite is actually happening: enrollment is dropping nationwide.

Dennis Jansen, PERC’s director, was on First News at Four on Monday to explain why this may be happening.

We are seeing a dip on post-secondary education enrollment nationwide, but at Texas A&M University, we’re seeing a rise in enrollment. Jansen attributes that to A&M’s flagship status.

“Texas A&M is in a disposition. It has excess demand for slots,” Jansen continues. “Texas A&M administration saw some problems early on and took steps to address them.”

Jansen says international student enrollment is down by 13%. First-time graduate students are down by 3.5%. The university has an increase in transfer students by 20%.

“I think you can see A&M administration took some actions that might have mitigated what could have otherwise led to decline in enrollment,” Jansen said.

During a pandemic, it may be easy to assume online learning could have an impact on enrollment numbers.

“I’d say the explanation is not perfectly clear,” Jansen continued. “It could be that students who would typically go to community colleges are even more skeptical of online learning than the majority of students.”

Blinn’s position, Jansen says, is far from unusual and not the worst in Texas, but he admits it is puzzling that Blinn’s enrollment is falling while A&M’s is increasing. Our local businesses rely heavily on our local institutions.

If enrollment declines all around, Jansen says our local economy will take a hit.

“It would mean fewer dollars spent on local business, fewer apartments or homes being rented, less money being spent at restaurants and bars and entertainment facilities,” Jansen continued. “Enrollment is basically tied to the local economy and businesses rely on money students are spending.”

To see the full interview, click on the video player above.

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