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Fighting for Scraps in Pennsylvania

Fighting for Scraps in Pennsylvania

Inside Higher Ed

Liam Knox
July 12, 2023
Pennsylvania has a numbers problem.
With nearly 250 colleges and universities, including over 40 public institutions, Pennsylvania has the fourth most higher education institutions of any state, after California, Texas and New York. It is home to four public multicampus institutions—Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)—in addition to Lincoln University, an HBCU, and a sprawling, decentralized network of community colleges. That’s not even counting the 129 private colleges.
But while there’s no shortage of suppliers, demand for higher education in the Keystone State is nowhere near what it used to be.
While the more popular campuses are stable or growing, many of the state’s public institutions have seen drastic enrollment declines since 2010. Enrollment at Penn State’s University Park campus is up 8 percent since 2010, and Pitt Oakland is up by 1 percent. But when the numbers at the two institutions are considered, including all of their campuses, both have suffered drops of over 30 percent, according to public data from the institutions. PASSHE’s systemwide enrollment has also fallen by 30 percent in the same period.
Those enrollment declines are largely thanks to steep drops at the regional comprehensive universities, which in many cases are over 50 percent. Enrollment at Penn State Hazleton, for instance, has dropped by 64 percent since 2010; at Pitt Titusville it has fallen by 96 percent, leaving only 23 students on campus in 2022.
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