Undergrad and grad numbers down this year
Georgia College enrollment is down nearly 3 percent this semester, largely because of a decline in the number of graduate students.
The 2.9-percent dip – from 6,636 last fall to 6,446 now – comes despite a notably larger freshman class. The number of first-year students here is up more than 17 percent. Even so, the overall decline will affect how much state funding the school gets.
As the economy slowly recovers and job growth picks up, there is a reduced demand for graduate school as recent graduates enter the workplace directly, and those already employed are not returning for part-time graduate degrees,” said Matthew Liao-Troth, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs.
In Fall 2011, 1,001 graduate students were enrolled at GC. There are currently 878, a 12.3 percent drop.
The University System of Georgia will release official enrollment data later this academic year.
“We will have to wait until it is reviewed by the Board of Regents, but we can expect a negative effect to the amount of state funding in Fall 2014.” Liao-Troth said. “We have not experienced an extreme loss in enrollment; therefore, we do not expect extreme reductions in funding due to our enrollment numbers.”
A portion of state colleges’ revenue comes from state appropriations. All USG institutions submit semester enrollment and credit hours to the Board of Regents to calculate state appropriations through their funding formula. The formula “generates funds for various factors such as enrollment, maintenance for new facilities, continuing education and fringe benefits”; based upon the enrollment and credit hours reports, “The funding formula calculates the change in funding required for faculty, staff, and support expenditures caused by the change in credit hours. This is referred to as enrollment earnings/losses or workload adjustment,” according to the USG’s Business Procedures Manual (section 8.2.1).
Across the USG system, decreases in graduate enrollment have become a trend since Fall 2009, where it decreased 1 percent in Fall 2010 and again by 1.2 percent in 2011.
“Some institutions have seen flat or declining enrollment. Yes, the USG is concerned and has been alerting institutions for the past 15 months to prepare accordingly. There is no one reason – it is institution specific,” Liao-Troth said.
Repressions caused by reduced state funding as well as tuition revenue are inevitable, however, “The USG is trying to spare academics from being affected by cuts as much as possible,” Liao-Troth said.
GC plans to explore every alternative method possible to reduce spending before cutting faculty and teaching positions.
“Less tuition will mean there is less revenue to support GC infrastructures. We reduce spending by deferring maintenance which could be something like choosing not to replace the treads in stairs; there might be fewer books on the library shelves, or less opportunities for faculty development travel and workshops. We would rather cut faculty development workshops than cut teachers from classrooms,” Liao-Troth said.
Other institutions within the USG system executed lay-offs in order to deal with the cuts in state funding.
“I read in the newspaper that Fort Valley has had to start laying off teachers because of this,” Liao-Troth said. Traditionally, GC has been fiscally conservative which has placed us in a better position to deal with the funding cuts so we have not been experiencing losses like that and, knock on wood, we won’t be.”