Fall Enrollment At Oregon Public Colleges And Universities Is Down Overall

Oregon Public Colleges And Universities: As the number of autumn enrollees at Oregon’s public universities drops, campuses are starting to look eerily deserted.

The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission notes that though enrollment has begun to stabilise, statewide enrollment is still lower than it was before the pandemic. And some institutions continue to observe a fall in student numbers.

Fall Enrollment At Oregon Public Colleges And Universities Is Down Overall

The schools on the list have suffered declining enrolment over the past two years, including Portland Community College (PCC) and Portland State University (PSU).

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A total of 1,777 fewer students enrolled at PCC and 1,965 fewer at PSU between 2020 and 2022. According to PSU, this is a drop of 5.3% from the year 2021.

Portland State’s Vice President of Enrollment Management, Chuck Knepfle, attributes the drop to fewer students staying between terms and fewer transfers from neighbouring community colleges. Over the past two decades, PSU’s enrollment has fluctuated similarly to that of many community colleges, he added.

More than half of our students are transfers, and the majority of those are from two-year institutions. Knepfle remarked that “community colleges took a significant amount of damage” during the pandemic.
After contacting PCC, we were given the following response by Ryan Clark, the dean of enrollment strategy and services:

To stabilise enrollment and direct resources toward the highest priorities in meeting community and workforce requirements, PCC has started work on a multi-year Strategic Enrollment Management Plan. We will be collaborating with PCC’s instructors, staff, and students to assess the changes brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic and identify areas where PCC may provide the most effective assistance.

Fall Enrollment At Oregon's Public Colleges And Universities Is Down Overall

He said that the university would kick up the process later this month and expect to have the plan finished by June of 2023.

Although student body sizes shrank at some institutions, they swelled at others. The number of students enrolled in fall classes at Oregon State University (OSU) has risen to a new high.

The Vice Provost of Enrollment Management at Oregon State University, Jon Boeckenstedt, has reported that enrollment continues to rise at a rapid clip. He said that the autumn of this year was not exceptional.

Even though we’ve seen a significant drop in overseas students, our enrolment has continued to rise during the pandemic,” Boeckenstedt said.
Evidently, he added, community colleges kept taking the hit for declining enrollment.

Boeckenstedt remarked that when facing a crisis like the pandemic, people have a tendency to flock to prestigious institutions with well-established brands.

It’s true that “Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford will be fine” in the grand scheme of things, but Boeckenstedt argues that “large name-brand, well-known schools seem to be doing better than regional campuses and certainly better than community colleges” in the realm of public universities.

There has been a 6 per cent increase in student body size at both Oregon State and the University of Oregon since the year 2020. The university’s strong Ecampus presence, according to OSU, expanded significantly during COVID’s peak.

When asked if PSU plans to expand its online offerings in an effort to increase enrollment, Knepfle said the university sees a future in creating online programmes, not online classes. He believes that PSU’s downtown location is a key selling point.

We know how valuable the in-person experience is, so I don’t think we’ll start pushing for more online programmes,” Knepfle said.

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According to him, PSU will see an increase in the number of freshmen and an increase in the percentage of students who return for subsequent terms. He predicted that the number of students transferring in will take longer to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

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