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Minorities Continue To Expand Their Share In Connecticut Higher Education

HARTFORD. Feb. 18 ---- Minority students made up 16.2% of enrollments at Connecticut colleges and universities in 1996, up 0.4 percentage points over the preceding year. This is the thirteenth consecutive year that minorities have enlarged their enrollment share.

Final 1996 headcounts released today by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education show 25,191 minority students attending the state’s public and independent colleges, up 0.9 percent from last fall. This increase comes as overall college enrollments in Connecticut continued to fall. Combined, minority and non-minority headcounts totaled 155,083, down 1.5% from the fall of 1995.

"Connecticut public and independent colleges and universities deserve credit for continuing to expand minority enrollments as overall enrollments have declined and as budgetary constraints have become increasingly severe." stated Higher Education Commissioner Andrew G. De Rocco. "The Department of Higher Education is very proud of its leadership in this process, guided by the Board of Governor’s Minority Advancement Plan. We hope to be able to sustain this record of achievement in the decade ahead."

Among all students African Americans now account for 7.3 percent; Hispanics, 5.0 percent; Asian Americans, 3.6 percent; and Native Americans, 0.3 percent. In terms of actual numbers, African American student counts fell by 97 students or 0.8 percent. The number of Hispanics rose by 203 students or 2.7 percent; Asians were up 132 for a 2.4 percent increase; and Native Americans lost 3 students, down 0.6 percent.

Overall Enrollment

Total student enrollments (both minority and non-minority) continued to decline. The 155,083 students in Connecticut higher education last semester represent the smallest fall enrollment in over fifteen years. Connecticut’s collegiate enrollments peaked in 1989 (169,132 students) and have been in gradual, but steady decline ever since. These enrollment patterns reflect the conflicting demographic patterns presently impacting Connecticut higher education. Now, as the numbers of traditional college-age persons (18 to 24 years of age) in the state begins to increase, the size of the cohort of potential older students (persons 25 to 40 years) has entered a period of precipitous decline. The impacts of these population patterns impacts different institutions in different ways, leading to considerable uncertainty about future enrollment trends. The role of work-related education for adults and a proportional increase of minority students among the traditional 18 to 24 cohort speak to the need for appropriate accommodations among our colleges and universities.

At Connecticut’s public colleges and universities (excluding the federally-supported U.S. Coast Guard Academy), enrollment dropped 3.0 percent to 96,336 students. All three constituent units suffered enrollment declines from 1995 to 1996. Counts at the University of Connecticut were down 2.9 percent, to 22,314; at the Connecticut State Universities the number of attendees declined 1.7 percent to 32,982; and the Community-Technical Colleges enrollments dropped 4.2 percent to 41,040.

Enrollments at Connecticut’s independent colleges were up 1.1 percent to 57,926. The patterns at individual independent institutions varied considerably. The biggest increase was at Albertus Magnus college, up 32.3 percent. This increase is attributable, in part, to its new program of study which shortens the time to degree by one full year.

Statewide both undergraduate enrollments (121,553) and graduate enrollments (30,123) were lower than in 1995. However, the number of full-time students (83,872) was up 0.9 percent, while part-time enrollments (71,211) were down 4.3 percent.

For the second consecutive year, persons aged 25 and older made up a smaller proportion of the state’s total enrollment than in the previous year. This year 36.0 percent of enrolled students were 25 or above compared to 36.7 percent in 1995 and 36.9 percent in both 1994 and 1993. It is likely that the decrease in numbers of part-time students and the somewhat larger decline at the Community-Technical Colleges reflects this continuing drop in numbers of older students.


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