The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Council has announced that the number of students attending Texas public universities offering four-year courses has increased. This is a first since the 1990s.
In addition, schools offering two-year community college courses continue to struggle with the sharp drop in enrollment. The trend has started since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The figures representing the fight
According to Click2Houston, data showed that community colleges have seen a drop of almost 11% since the start of the pandemic. This translates into a loss of about 80,000 students. For public universities, it jumped nearly 2% during the pandemic. For independent universities, there have been no notable changes in the number of students. However, they have seen an increase of almost ten percent in the number of students enrolled in health-related institutions.
In comparison, the number of students in two years has fallen below four-year schools by around 2,000 students. Nationally, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board said university enrollments were down about 4% from 2019.
Texas community colleges have marketed themselves as more accessible and affordable options for low-income Texans. When the pandemic began, Higher Education Commissioner Harrison Keller told the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Council at a meeting this week that many community colleges were expecting more students. It is expected that it is common to see an increase in the number of registrants when there is an economic recession and unemployment rises. Students usually look for cheaper alternatives in such cases.
Click2Houston quoted Keller as saying, “It didn’t happen. In fact, what has happened is striking: University enrollment has continued to increase. They continued to increase their numbers. Higher education executives said they did not understand why two-year schools have seen a massive drop in enrollment at their institutions.
Aside from the changing trend in enrollment at public universities and community colleges, more male students have enrolled than women during the pandemic. As a result, male enrollments increased by approximately 23,000 from 2020 to 2021. There are still more female students, but male student enrollments have rebounded faster than female student registrations.