Overall enrollment at Oregon public colleges, universities down this fall

Many public colleges and universities in Oregon are seeing fewer students this fall compared to last year, according to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. For some institutions, declining enrollment is an ongoing trend that has only been accentuated by the pandemic.

“If you combine all of our public institutions, community colleges and universities — and look at student numbers — fall enrollment is down 1.2% from last year,” the executive director said. of HECC, Ben Cannon, at a board meeting on Thursday.

Cannon said that was due to an overall decline in community college enrollment of 3.6% in the state and a slight overall increase in public university enrollment of just under 1%.

Cannon said enrollment rates are uneven among state institutions. While some have seen increases or stabilization in enrollment, others continue to see declines.

The HECC has yet to release detailed enrollment figures for public institutions in the state, but Cannon said that will likely happen early this week.

Some universities released details of their own fall term enrollment ahead of the HECC summary.

Oregon State University announced Thursday that it has broken an enrollment record, with more than 35,000 students enrolled this fall term. This is an increase of more than 3% in registrations compared to last fall.

The university says its main source of enrollment growth is online students enrolled through its Ecampus, which saw an almost 6% increase in enrollment this fall, compared to a 1% increase in enrollment at the main campus in Corvallis.

OSU is the only public higher education institution in the state to have seen no drop in enrollment throughout the pandemic, according to HECC data.

“Record enrollment among students of color and freshmen, and the growing number of non-resident students, are proof that Oregon State is increasingly seen as a destination for inclusive education. and excellent,” OSU President Jayathi Murthy said in a statement Thursday. .

The University of Oregon announced a few months ago that it was welcoming the largest incoming class in the history of the university this fall. The university has not yet released its total number of finalized enrollments for the term.

At the other end of the spectrum, other institutions continue to see declines in enrollment.

Portland State University campus file photo as seen in July 2021.

Hanin Najjar/OPB

At a board meeting last month, Portland State University officials revealed that the university continues to see enrollment drop this school year. Already, fall enrollment from 2019 to 2021 is down nearly 11%, according to previous HECC data.

In documents from a PSU finance and administration committee meeting on Thursday, the university gave more details about its enrollment prospects.

According to these documents, the number of Portland Community College students transferring to PSU has decreased by 27% since last year.

At the board meeting, PSU Board Chairman Greg Hinckley noted that about half of the university’s students had transferred from community colleges, particularly CCP.

Portland Community College has yet to release its final enrollment for the fall term, but according to data from the start of the term, the college saw 7% fewer students enrolling than the same time last year. .

PCC experienced the largest drop in enrollment of 2019 last fall at any community college in the state — a decline of about 23%.

Overall, fewer Oregon high school graduates have recently chosen to enroll in college, according to HECC data.

HECC staff said Oregon high school graduates in the class of 2020 had 7% fewer people enrolled in any US college within 16 months of graduation compared to the ‘last year.

Amy Cox, director of the Office of Research and Data at HECC, said the drop could be due to the postponement of university studies in the first year of the pandemic. But that won’t be clear until another year of data becomes available.

“This rate of decline is something quite dramatic,” Cox said. “We hope some of that amount will come back with the pace next year, but time will tell. This is also happening alongside declining enrollment…especially at community colleges.