Enrollment Reaches All-Time High Approaching 283,000 Students
When the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents adopted a new strategic plan in August 2007, the plan predicted an additional 100,000 students enrolling in Georgia’s 35 public colleges and universities by 2020. The numbers in the board’s fall 2008 enrollment report, released today, show the system is on track to reach and perhaps surpass that prediction, with a record 282,978 students.
And 46,711 of those students this fall are first-time freshmen. This group increased 9.6 percent over fall 2007 and is evidence of the increasing demand on public higher education resources by Georgians.
The overall numbers represent a gain of 12,956 students from fall 2007, or an increase of 4.8 percent. This follows a gain of 10,077 students from fall 2006 to fall 2007. To put the gains in perspective, the USG has grown by 32,319 students, or 12.9 percent, in the last five years.
“We have added the equivalent of another University of Georgia to the system over the past five years,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “This represents significant growth, during a period in which we are challenged to serve more students at a high level of quality with diminished resources.” For example, a new USG analysis shows that the number of faculty and staff in the system to serve students has decreased by 18 percent per 1000 students from fall 2000 to fall 2007, while over the same period, enrollment increased 31.5 percent.
An analysis of the numbers shows two key developments, says Dr. Cathie Mayes Hudson, vice chancellor for Research and Policy Analysis. “First is that the regents’ strategic goal of meeting capacity by increasing enrollment at the state and two-year colleges is producing results. And second is that the System increasingly reflects the state population in terms of the diversity of the student body.”
In the first example, Hudson is referring to a decision by the board to increase access to the System’s eight state colleges and eight two-year colleges. State college enrollment grew by 6.1 percent, while two-year college enrollment grew by 8.4 percent, both well above the USG average of 4.8 percent. Some of the biggest enrollment percentage gains were at these types of institutions. For example, from fall 2007 to fall 2008, enrollment growth was in the double-digits at:
Atlanta Metropolitan College, up 19.1 percent to 2,241 students;
Bainbridge College, up 16.2 percent to 3,091 students;
East Georgia College, up 28.6 percent to 2,555 students;
Gainesville State College, up 10.2 percent to 8,238 students; and
Georgia Gwinnett College, up 98.4 percent to 1,563 students.
Two state universities also have experienced double digit growth from fall 2007 to fall 2008. Fort Valley State University is up 21 percent to 3,106 students and Georgia Southwestern State University is up 13 percent to 2,717 students.
But overall in the System’s 13 state universities, growth was smaller, at 5 percent, which is in line with the Strategic Plan that calls for more modest enrollment growth in this sector. And at the two regional universities – Georgia Southern University and Valdosta State University, enrollment grew 4 percent from fall 2007 to fall 2008, for a combined student body of 29,254.
Enrollment increased at the four research universities by just 2.6 percent – again, right in line with the objectives of the Strategic Plan to shift enrollment to the System’s four- and two-year institutions. Among the four research universities, Georgia State University posted the largest percentage increase, of 4 percent, to a fall 2008 enrollment of 28,229 students. Right behind Georgia State in the percentage increase in enrollment is the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a 3.6 percent increase in enrollment, to 19,424 students. The Medical College of Georgia saw its enrollment increase 2 percent, to 2,919, and the University of Georgia’s enrollment grew 1 percent, to 34,180 students.
The increasing diversity of the USG student population is central to the board’s second goal in its strategic plan. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, Georgia’s African-American population was 29.2 percent, and Hispanic population was 5.3 percent, with the Asian population at 2.4 percent. The numbers in the fall 2008 enrollment report reflect progress in increasing access to the USG by underserved groups, said Hudson.
African-American enrollment increased by 7.5 percent, or 4,878 additional students from fall 2007 to fall 2008. African-American enrollment now stands at 69,771 students, or 24.7 percent of the total enrollment. And African-American student enrollment growth rates have exceeded the total student growth rates for several years: the five-year growth rate is 18.7 percent, and the 10-year rate is an increase of 60.7 percent.
Likewise, the report shows Hispanic enrollment up 12 percent in fall 2008 over last year, to a total this fall of 9,874 students. This year’s gains mirror a 12.6 percent increase from fall 2006 to fall 2007, and reflect the continued growth in the number of Hispanics seeking greater opportunities through higher education. Hispanics now represent 3.5 percent of all USG students.
The enrollment of Asian/Pacific Islander students increased by 6.5 percent, or 1,087 students from fall 2007 to fall 2008 to a total of 17,805 students. This group represents 6.3 percent of all students.
Looking at gender, 57.7 percent – 163,320 students – of the USG student body is female. However, the growth rate for male students, at 5.3 percent from fall 2007 to fall 2008, exceeded that of female students, at 4.4 percent. Eleven USG institutions have more than 65 percent female enrollment.
The system’s full-time equivalent enrollment (FTE) for fall 2008 is 247,168, an increase of 5.1 percent over fall 2007, adding 11,982 more FTE students. This increase is above the overall enrollment increase of 4.8 percent, which indicates that more students are taking additional hours of courses, compared to students in fall 2007.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Enrollment Reaches All-Time High Approaching 283,000 Students