STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson Community College's fall enrollment growth of 5.3 percent helped to boost the state of Ohio's enrollment increase of 2.7 percent over last fall's numbers.
Enrollment in University System of Ohio colleges and universities reached 478,376 this fall, an increase of 12,520 students.
JCC's enrollment grew from 1,727 to 1,818, officials noted.
During a recent JCC Board of Trustees meeting, members learned some institutions reported a decline in enrollment; however, the combined enrollment of the system's 14 university campuses grew by 5,536 students, a 2.2 percent increase. The 24 regional branch campuses grew by 1,977 students, a 4.6 percent increase, and the 23 community colleges grew by 5,007 students, a 3.0 percent increase. Several colleges and universities reported setting-record enrollments and their institutions' largest student bodies ever.
"After a period of little or no growth, we're accelerating combined enrollment at Ohio's public colleges and universities," said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut. "Governor (Ted) Strickland and the Ohio General Assembly are to be commended for increased spending on higher education and holding the line on tuition increases over the past two years. That work is paying off with these enrollment numbers."
Overall enrollment grew at Ohio's public colleges and universities for the second straight year, with the current 2.7 percent increase beating the previous year's 1.9 percent enrollment increase. Enrollment was flat between 2005 and 2006, with a slight growth rate of 0.3 percent. Between 2004 and 2005, the enrollment rate was down 0.3 percent.
Several reasons were cited by colleges and universities for enrollment gains, including:
Colleges expanding scheduling and programs to better meet students' needs.
Partnerships between colleges and universities offering more physical locations and opportunities where associate and bachelor's degrees can be earned on one campus.
Ohio's two-year tuition freeze and college alignment within the University System.
Increasing academic offerings to meet local employers' needs.
Providing increased distance learning courses.
Concerns about the economy moving students to improve their skills and take them back to the workplace
The changing face of the "traditional" student, with more and more adult students taking courses part-time while holding jobs or returning to college after raising children.
Building stronger relationships with high schools, opening campuses to high school students participating in Ohio's new Seniors to Sophomores and other early college credit programs where high school students earn high school and college credit at the same time
"It's encouraging to see that such a wide variety of student-centered strategies are working to bring people to campus," said Fingerhut. "It's rewarding for the students and for all Ohioans who help support our public University System. By increasing the educational attainment of our work force, Ohio is becoming attractive to new businesses and helping make existing businesses more competitive."
In related enrollment news, Patty Sturch, JCC dean of enrollment management and student records, said the final summer full-time equivalency count revealed a 9.4 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. These figures are used in reports to the state for the college's student subsidy funding.
In other business, the board approved the selection of Hasenstab Architects Inc. for the renovation project for the chemistry and biology labs next summer and approved an institutional accountability report to the USO.
Currently, John Russell Construction Co. is demolishing the old tennis and basketball courts and preparing the site for landscaping.