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Undergraduate enrollment ticked up in spring 2024, report finds

Undergraduate enrollment ticked up in spring 2024, report finds

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
May 22, 2024
Dive Brief:
  • Undergraduate enrollment rose 2.5% year over year in spring 2024, the second semester in a row higher ed has seen such gains, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
  • The overall increase — representing about 359,000 additional students — came largely at community colleges, where regular and dual enrollment both rose, the report said.
  • But even with the gains, higher ed enrollment is still well below pre-COVID levels. Doug Shapiro, the research center’s executive director, called the pandemic’s lingering effects “a continuing kind of hangover” in a call with reporters Tuesday.
Dive Insight:
Colleges are slowly recovering from sharp pandemic-induced enrollment declines, as well as broader demographic challenges plaguing the sector. The clearinghouse found that enrollment among undergraduate students rose 1.2% year over year in fall 2023 — the first such increase in over a decade.
While undergraduate enrollment hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic numbers, colleges have reason to be optimistic, Shapiro said.
“This is especially true for community colleges which, of course, were the hardest hit during the pandemic,” he said.
Enrollment increased 4.7% year over year at these institutions this spring, an addition of about 200,000 students. That represents almost half of the higher education sector’s overall gains, despite community colleges making up just a quarter of postsecondary enrollment, the clearinghouse said.
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