The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) has received Preliminary 2021 Fall Enrollment numbers for Alabama’s public two- and four-year institutions.
Overall, there was a 1.4 percent decline in undergraduate students at universities with eight institutions showing fewer students than a year ago.
That compares with a 3.2 percent increase in graduate students. Athens State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, University of Alabama in Huntsville and University of Montevallo all reported double digit increases in graduate enrollment.
Troy University was down 10 percent in fall enrollment. Troy officials say those figures do not include their final enrollment period for the fall timeframe, the nine-week Term Two session which starts in October. They also cited the decline in international and nonresident students due to Covid.
Alabama’s two-year institutions saw a 5.6 percent increase with only six out of 24 schools having less students than fall 2020. Reid State Technical College in Evergreen reported a 40.6 percent uptick, while 25.7 percent more students enrolled at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.
“The availability of jobs may be one reason some students are postponing higher education,” said ACHE Executive Director Jim Purcell.
Purcell said all of higher education is continuing to feel the impact of last year’s coronavirus pandemic. “Our institutions are to be applauded for their quick adaptation to hybrid methods of academic course delivery during the 2020 spring term,” he said. “Amidst all of the ongoing changes, student success remains the top priority of the state’s higher education system.”
The majority of students and faculty members had not taken or taught an online course prior to the beginning of the pandemic. All of the institutions are continuing to adhere to CDC Covid-19 guidelines for the protection of residential and commuter students attending classes.
Alabama is continuing to address Governor Ivey’s plan to add an additional 500,000 skilled workers to the workforce by 2025. This will require training beyond high school through degree or certificate programs. This is something ACHE hopes will encourage all age groups to consider for the workforce; whether it is a first-time student or someone returning to higher education at a later time.
“I believe that everyone has realized that life must continue and for many of our citizens that means enrolling or returning to a college or university for an education that will prepare them for the world of work,” said Purcell. “The dedication of our institutions in continuing to provide a quality educational experience for all students will be a major factor in advancing Alabama’s economic future.”