According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the enrollment crisis at U.S. institutions higher learning continued for a second year after the pandemic. However, coronavirus vaccines were made widely available for students last autumn.
Total undergraduate enrollment dropped 3.1 percent from the fall of 2020 to the fall of 2021, bringing the total decline since the fall of 2019 to 6.6 percent — or 1,205,600 students.
“Our final look at fall 2021 enrollment shows undergraduates continuing to sit out in droves as colleges navigate yet another year of Covid-19,” said Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the research center, which collects and analyzes data from 3,600 postsecondary institutions.
Even before the pandemic began, college enrollment was on the decline as college-age students declined. High tuition costs discouraged potential domestic students, while the highly polarizing immigration debate drove out international students.
This decline was further accelerated by Covid-19, which made many classes online and severely restricted campus life. Many potential college students were forced to work because of the economic disruption caused the pandemic.
New figures show that undergraduates declined at all types college. Public two-year colleges continue to be the hardest hit, while U.S. Community Colleges are particularly hurt.
Due to the economic crisis and pandemic, thousands of students, many low-income, were forced out of school or dropped out. The new data revealed that enrollment in community college was down 13.2 per cent, or 706,000, compared to 2019.
As well as the decline in students seeking associate degrees at four year institutions, there was also a drop in students over 24.
“Without a dramatic re-engagement in their education, the potential loss to these students’ earnings and futures is significant, which will greatly impact the nation as a whole in years to come,” Mr. Shapiro said in a news release.
One bright spot in the data was that enrollment of first year students stabilized, which is about 0.4 per cent, or 8,100, between 2020 and 2021.
Even so, enrollment in the first year is 9.2 per cent lower than that at prepandemic levels for fall 2019.
Source: NY Times