Higher education enrollment in Connecticut hit a record high this fall, driven largely by increased attendance at public colleges and universities and record enrollments at 14 schools.
Overall, 184,544 students attend colleges or universities in Connecticut, a 3.2 percent increase from last year and the largest rate of growth in the past two decades, according to the state Department of Higher Education, which released the enrollment data Wednesday.
"Clearly we're experiencing great demand for college," Higher Education Commissioner Michael P. Meotti said in a prepared statement. "As in past tough economic times, people are turning to college to improve their prospects."
The overall number of students in higher education has set records for seven consecutive years, but this year's increase includes a 2.3 percent bump in part-time students, reversing a decadelong trend of negative or little growth. That might be the result of more adults returning to school, which typically occurs when the economy sours, according to the Department of Higher Education.
Community colleges lead the state in enrollment, with 51,105 students. That's up 5.5 percent from last year and up 25 percent since 2000.
Enrollment at Connecticut State University schools rose by 1.4 percent, to 35,891, while enrollment at the University of Connecticut rose by 2.5 percent to 29,383 students.
At independent colleges and universities, enrollment rose 2.8 percent overall, although the changes — up or down — varied widely.
Fourteen colleges and universities posted record enrollments this fall, including seven community colleges, two state university system schools and two of UConn's campuses.
The record enrollment follows the graduation this spring of what was expected to be the state's peak high school graduating class. After a steady climb, the state's elementary and secondary school population is expected to decline for the foreseeable future.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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