Fall enrollment at Indiana’s public colleges has declined again statewide, with only Indiana and Purdue universities’ flagship campuses and some Ivy Tech Community College sites reporting gains.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says the overall 2.6% drop in degree-seeking students at public universities brings Indiana’s five-year loss to 10.4%. That’s down from 267,598 students in fall 2016 to 239,799 this year, the Journal Gazette reported.
With an enrollment drop of 1.3%, four-year public institutions faced less of a hit than two-year schools, which saw their enrollment drop by 7.1%, the commission reported.
The Ivy Tech Community College system experienced an overall decline of 6.7%.
Sean Tierney, an associate commissioner, said enrollment is important, considering Indiana’s goal of at least 60% of working-age Hoosiers having a high-quality post-secondary credential by 2025.
Teresa Lubbers, the panel’s commissioner, reported in September that the state’s attainment rate stood at about 48%.
Tierney said higher education faces two issues that are having an impact on enrollment — the population of college-going students isn’t growing as fast as it historically has, and the percentage of 18-year-olds going straight from high school to college is declining.
The most recent data showed that 59% of 2019 high school graduates enrolled in education after high school. That’s down from 61% the previous year and down from 65%, in 2015.