HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) – Regional college administrators in Ohio faced with falling student enrollment are searching for solutions, including offering more and diverse degrees.
Some regional schools in Ohio have lost as much as 30 percent of their student population since 2009, according to the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News.
While Miami University in Oxford has seen rising enrollment, its regional campus in Middletown lost nearly 8 percent of its full-time enrolled students and its regional campus in Hamilton saw a slight drop.
Kent State University’s seven regional campuses have had between an 11 percent to nearly 30 percent decrease in enrollment at each of the sites since 2009, although some saw an increase or slight decrease in full-time student enrollment this year compared with last year. The northeastern Ohio university’s main campus in Kent had a slight increase this year.
Experts say fewer non-traditional students, such as out-of-work parents, are signing up for classes at two-year and satellite schools.
“Now that the job market is better, there’s less pressure to come back and get training,” said Kent Phillippe, the associate vice president for research at the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Community Colleges.
Phillipe thinks the drop in enrollment probably will continue for the short term, but the association thinks it will level off soon.
The state is asking Ohio’s public universities to develop more programs that rely on local employment needs, said John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.
“Adapting to the regional workforce need is definitely a strategy,” Carey said.
Offering more affordable bachelor’s degrees at regional campuses could help the state meet its goal to increase the number of college graduates, Carey said.
Currently, 36 percent of Ohio’s adults get a post-secondary credential. Carey wants that to be 60 percent by 2025.
Kent State is working to offer more degrees at its regional campuses to fit area economies, said Wanda Thomas, dean of the university’s regional campuses. Its Ashtabula campus began offering a winemaking degree in 2011 in the area that has over a dozen wineries. The regional schools also are looking to collaborate more with the main campus and offer more bachelor’s degrees.
“We know that a student who’s a non-residential student at Kent, if they don’t get all of the degree requirements meant, they do not transfer to another institution,” Thomas said. “They just seem to quit.”
Miami is offering more and diverse bachelor’s degrees at its regional campuses in Hamilton, Middletown and West Chester Township. It also is analyzing changes that could rename its regional campuses and add a distinction to their diplomas.
The regional campuses’ graduation rates also are a concern since the state last year tied public colleges’ taxpayer-backed funding to graduation rates, said David Creamer, vice president of finance at Miami University.
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