October 27, 1997 - Minnesota State Colleges and Universities see increase in full-time students; Enrollments stable at public state colleges and universities
Contact: Melinda Voss, (651) 296-9443, firstname.lastname@example.org
An increase in the number of full-time students at the 36 member institutions of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities indicates that economic and demographic factors working against increased enrollments may be changing.
According to MnSCU analysts increased full-time student headcounts typically portend a rise in enrollments. The number of full-time students at Minnesota community colleges and comprehensive community and technical colleges rose 3 percent and part-time students decreased by 4.5 percent. These colleges are the only MnSCU institutions that automatically report computerized full- and part-time figures. Independently reported information from the state universities and technical colleges also support a rise in full-time students.
Two factors are evident:
- The smaller high school classes of the 1980s are giving way to gradual increases in high school class size over the next seven years. Those increases in college-age young people, approximately 17 percent by 2003, often called the baby-boomlet, should be seen in higher enrollments at the public colleges and universities.
- Minnesota's low unemployment and strong job market over the last two years have attracted potential students away from two-year institutions, in particular. A slowing of enrollment declines at the colleges may indicate the trade-off of a good job for career education is less attractive today, and employees are looking at gaining longer term career enhancement.
The number of students registered for fall quarter at Minnesota's state universities and two-year public colleges is stable after several years of declining enrollments. A total of 144,880 students were enrolled at MnSCU institutions on the 10th day of fall quarter 1997, down 0.1 percent, or 184 students, from fall 1996 enrollment of 145,064.
Enrollment at the seven state universities is up slightly, with a 0.8 percent increase over 1996. A total of 52,888 students were enrolled at the universities on the 10th day of classes. Enrollment at the 29 two-year public colleges was down slightly, with a 0.7 percent decrease over 1996. A total of 91,992 students were enrolled on the 10th day of the fall term at the state colleges.
These preliminary headcount figures provide a snapshot of the number of students attending on a specific day. Final fall-term enrollment at many of the colleges and universities is likely to be higher because some courses start later in the term and not all student registrations have been recorded at some campuses.
"We are very encouraged by these numbers because there is an apparent reversing of trends," Morris Anderson, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "With more
full-time students in the system, it is clear that our institutions overall are beginning to see an upswing in enrollments."
Percentage changes in fall headcounts vary by institution. A number of colleges and universities reported specific stories:
Northwest Technical College reported only a slight drop in mostly part-time students, good news for the college that faced significant problems with the spring 1997 flooding of the Red River. Carol Buck, Northwest vice president for student services, is "overjoyed that the college rebounded from the flood." The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities implemented a strong flood response to help students finish spring quarter and continue their programs. "Our neighbors across the Red River have seen enrollments drop precipitously," said Buck. "We did a good job in helping and retaining students."
Bemidji State University, which serves students primarily from Northern Minnesota, saw a decrease in just 12 students from year to year but reported a significant increase in off-campus students who take classes through ITV extension and other distance learning programs. Bemidji State provides distance learning classes in industrial technology and elementary education, for example, to George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, and Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities.
North Hennepin Community College reported enrollments down 1.4 percent but showed an improvement of 8 percent in full-time students.
Southwest State University showed the greatest gains in enrollment, 15.3 percent over last year. Metropolitan State University in the Twin Cities reported a 5.5 percent gain.
Another bright spot was Minneapolis Community and Technical College, which reported an 8 percent increase in students in the first year of consolidation. Typically, the merged technical colleges and community colleges show some enrollment declines as the consolidation of systems is ironed out.
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the largest single provider of higher education in the state of Minnesota. The system serves approximately 145,000 students during fall quarter and a total non-duplicated headcount for a full academic year of about 233,000 students. MnSCU has 54 campuses and includes community colleges, technical colleges, comprehensive community and technical colleges and state universities.