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Initial numbers show decreases in community college, undergrad enrollments

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Preliminary numbers show some significant drops in enrollment this semester at some of  Alabama’s two- and four-year colleges.

Undergraduate enrollment at four-year universities is down a combined 2% from fall 2019, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education reported Tuesday.

Twenty-one of 24 community colleges saw enrollment declines, according to the initial numbers. In all, enrollment dropped by 12.6%, more than 10,000 students. According to ACHE, numbers may change as students enroll in the mini semesters offered by community colleges.


“The coronavirus pandemic that disrupted spring classes continues to have an impact on higher education,” ACHE Executive Director Jim Purcell said. “Although faced with challenges, our institutions have quickly adapted to hybrid methods of course delivery.”

Graduate enrollment is up 8.6% with increases at 11 of 14 schools.

“Recent graduates may have decided to go on to graduate school while they await an improvement in the job market,” Purcell said.

In mid-March, schools closed campuses and switched to distance learning. In-person instruction resumed this term.

Gov. Kay Ivey has set a goal of adding 500,000 credentialed workers to the workforce by 2025, which if accomplished would bring the level of work-age Alabamians with post high school training or degrees from about 43 percent in 2016 to 60 percent.

“The dedication of our institutions in continuing to provide a quality educational experience for all students will be a major factor in moving Alabama ahead on the economic spectrum,” Purcell said.

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