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MODEST ENROLLMENT GAINS AT CONNECTICUT COLLEGES

FOR RELEASE: 11:15 a.m.,Wednesday, November 15, 2000

WILLIMANTIC, Nov. 15 - Connecticut colleges are making a steady comeback in enrollment after hitting bottom four years ago, fueled by growing numbers of undergraduate students, according to fall 2000 headcounts announced today by Valerie F. Lewis, Commissioner of Higher Education.

The final tallies, collected by the Department of Higher Education, show 160,709 students attending the state’s public and independent institutions of higher learning - an increase of 2,876 students or 1.8 percent more than last year. This growth continues a positive trend begun in 1998 when enrollment stabilized at 154,229 students, followed by last year’s increase of 2.3 percent. Previously, enrollment had peaked in 1989 at 169,132 before starting an eight year slump in which student counts fell by 15,103 or nine percent.

This fall, enrollment rose 2.8 percent at public institutions to 100,453 for an increase of 2,781 students ¾ the first year counts at these institutions topped the 100,000 mark since 1994. Every type of public institution posted gains. In contrast, the overall total of 60,256 at the independent colleges was virtually the same as last year, up just 0.2 percent or 95 students, but counts among these schools varied considerably with sharp declines at the more specialized, smaller schools.

Announcing the figures at a morning meeting of the Board of Governors for Higher Education at Eastern Connecticut State University, Commissioner Lewis said, "Because the state’s pool of high school graduates is growing, we expect college enrollment to climb until 2006. Fortunately, our public colleges are well-positioned to handle growth in the short-term since investments in facilities and staff have risen significantly over the years despite fewer students."

"I am concerned, however, over the volatility occurring at our more specialized, independent colleges," stated Lewis. "These sharp drops could signal a shifting market which bears careful watch."

Across the state, enrollment was up due mostly to greater numbers of undergraduates whose numbers grew by 2,823 or nearly 2.3 percent. Among these undergraduates, new freshmen accounted for more than 33 percent of the increase, continuing a pattern begun in 1998 and reflecting growth in the number of Connecticut’s high school graduates which is expected to last until 2008 before declining again. Graduate enrollment, on the other hand, remained unchanged from last year, up just 62.

While good news, the higher enrollment at state-supported institutions is still more than 9,000 students short of the peak reached in 1989 and falls on the low range of the Department of Higher Education’s projections which estimated fall 2000 enrollment at these colleges to be between 98,000 and 107,000.

At the University of Connecticut, counts rose 3.0 percent to 23,421 due largely to 672 more students at the Storrs Campus. Counts also were up by 45 students at UConn’s Stamford Campus, but fell slightly at Avery Point, and at the Tri-Campus and Health Center.

Connecticut State University enrolled 1,300 more students overall, up 3.8 percent to 35,330 students. With an increase of 5.0 percent or 576 students, Southern posted the largest gains, with healthy increases posted by Central, Eastern and Western as well.

Eight of the 12 community colleges posted gains. Across this system, enrollment grew 1.9 percent to 40,825 students. The largest jump occurred at Capital, up 10.3 percent, due mostly to a change in counting methods. Significant increases occurred at Asnuntuck, up 7.6 percent; at Naugatuck Valley and Quinebaug Valley, each up 5.2 percent; and at Norwalk, up 3.0 percent. A sharp drop of 6.0 percent or 102 students was posted by Northwestern, followed by much smaller declines at Tunxis and Manchester.

Within the independent sector, enrollment once again held steady at the four-year nationals with 18,359 students. Connecticut College posted a 2.0 percent gain and Yale was stable, up just 0.6 percent. Trinity College was down 5.3 percent, and Wesleyan dropped 1.3 percent.

Across the four-year regionals, enrollment was up 1.8 percent or 714 students for a total of 40,097. The largest percentage gains occurred at the University of Bridgeport, followed by Albertus Magnus and Quinnipiac University. Four with highly specialized missions - the Hartford Seminary, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, Rensselaer at Hartford and St. Basil’s College - all showed losses, as did Teikyo Post University and the University of New Haven.

The five two-year independents experienced the most dramatic changes, with enrollment down sharply at each of these schools except for St. Vincent’s College where counts were up by 26.2 percent or 55 students.

* * *

The Fall 2000 College and University Enrollment in Connecticut research report (PDF document, 14 pages, 49kb) which contains the fall 2000 enrollment statistics is available online.  The fall 2000 enrollment statistics (Microsoft Excel 97, 2 pages, 46kb)  are also available online in the Microsoft Excel 97 spreadsheet format.


Contact: Connie Fraser
(860)947-1801


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