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Nov 02, 2011

Increases in Part-time Students, Reductions in Graduate-level Students Among Leading Trends

Preliminary figures show fall enrollment at the 17 institutions governed by the Board of Regents will approach 96,000 students, easing slightly off last year’s historic high of 97,160.

Preliminary figures show that fall enrollment at the 17 institutions governed by Connecticut’s new Board of Regents for Higher Education will approach 96,000 students, easing slightly off last year’s historic high of 97,160.

About one-third of the state’s high school students who pursue post-secondary education anywhere in the United States - about six out of ten of those who do so in Connecticut - attend one of the Board of Regents institutions, which include the four state universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College, the state’s on-line degree completion institution.

“The colleges and universities governed by the Board of Regents are at the heart of Connecticut’s educational and economic future,” said Robert A. Kennedy, President of the Board of Regents. “Our ever-increasing alignment with the state’s workforce needs is making a difference not only for our students, but for our state. Despite continuing economic challenges, our numbers remain strong and our commitment to providing high quality education is unwavering.”

Connecticut State University System

While overall enrollment across the Connecticut State University System (CSUS) - which includes Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities - dropped by nearly 600 students or 1.6 percent this year from a year ago; more than two-thirds of that drop is driven by a reduction in graduate-level students, reflecting similar declines at the national level.

At the undergraduate level, enrollment numbers were generally steady, with Central and Eastern showing a slight increase of less than one percent and Southern and Western showing a slight decrease. Full-time undergraduate student levels were up at Southern and Western, down slightly at Central and Western.

System-wide among undergraduate students, the number of part-time students increased slightly (less than one percent) driven by an increasing number of part-time students at Central, Eastern and Western. The number of full-time students dropped by eight-tenths of a percent compared with a year ago.

The number of graduate-level students (6,098) dropped by 6.3 percent from a year ago, reflecting a continuing decline for much of the decade, from a peak of 8,106 graduate students in 2000.

Overall enrollment – including both undergraduate and graduate students - was 36,047, a drop from 36,629 last year, but higher than in 2008, when there were 35,891 students. Current enrollment is two percent higher than a decade ago; in 2000 there were 35,331 students.

All 169 cities and towns in Connecticut have students attending the CSUS universities. The state’s major cities – Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Danbury – all saw an increasing number of students attending CSUS institutions this year.

Just over 93 percent of CSUS students are from Connecticut, and 86 percent remain in the state after graduation. As the largest university system in the state, CSUS plays an integral role in the education of Connecticut students as well as the state’s cultural and civic life and economic well-being.

The solid track-record of the four CSUS universities – reflected in a record-setting 7,192 degrees and certificates awarded in 2011, the third consecutive annual increase – helps propel Connecticut’s economy and provide the state’s businesses with an innovative, dynamic and well-prepared workforce, possessing the critical thinking skills that are increasingly in demand. The number of degrees and certificates awarded has increased by nearly 40 percent, an increase of 1,922, since 2000.

Connecticut Community Colleges

The Connecticut Community Colleges overall enrollment was 57,674, easing off the enrollment jump from fall 2010 by 579 students, a decrease of one percent, but still 2,562 students (4.6 percent) more than the fall 2009 enrollment.

Perhaps due to changing economic conditions and a leveling off in the demographic crest of traditional college-age students, enrollment of part-time students increased 2.9 percent between 2010 and 2011, while full-time students decreased by 7.4 percent across the 12 colleges.

“Following back-to-back years with the largest enrollment increases on record at our community colleges, it was not unanticipated that there would be a slight leveling off. But we are at the second highest number of total students on record, and the number of part-time students continues to increase,” said Michael P. Meotti, Executive Vice President of the Board of Regents.

The number of part-time students has now increased for five consecutive years, and is at the highest number on record, 37,375. There are 20,299 full-time students attending Connecticut Community Colleges.

Among the 12 Connecticut Community Colleges, three colleges – Naugatuck Valley, Norwalk and Tunxis – showed a slight increase in overall students, while the other nine showed a decrease. The largest drop was at Quinebaug Valley, 8.2 percent; the largest increase was at Naugatuck Valley, 2.3 percent.

In 2001, there were 42,642 students attending Connecticut Community Colleges. A decade later, in 2011, that number stands at 57,674, an increase of 15,032 students or 35 percent. In fact, at two colleges – Gateway in New Haven and Housatonic in Bridgeport – the number of students has more than doubled between 2001 and 2011 and nearly doubled at two others – Three Rivers in Norwich and Capital in Hartford.

Charter Oak State College

As an online public college, Charter Oak State College enrolls students in multiple terms during the fall, and official figures will not be available until later this fall. Nevertheless, officials report that they expect headcount enrollment to be within one percent of last year, with enrollment between 2,350 and 2,300 when the final count is made.