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How should NY fight enrollment decline at community colleges?

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  • Staff Report 

SUNY Chancellor John King visited Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica on Wednesday as part of his statewide tour to address the decline in community college enrollment. According to SUNY’s website, community college enrollment dropped from 243,007 students in 2012 to 159,333 students last year, although COVID-19 is believed to have played a role in the decline.

At some community colleges, including Onondaga Community College, there are recent signs of an upward trend. Onondaga Community College President Warren Hilton said that the college saw a 2% increase in overall enrollment last year, the first increase in many years.

During his visit to Mohawk Valley Community College, King shared his ideas to boost enrollment. He believes that community colleges should offer more programs that match students’ interests, respond to regional economic development needs, and prepare students not only for jobs but also for citizenship. King emphasized that community colleges need to make sure that working adults know about the great programs that can help them advance their careers.

King is also advocating for more investment in public higher education because of the high return on investment. He pointed to funding proposals from the governor to help support community colleges and four-year campuses. However, lawmakers are questioning whether the proposed funding will be enough to offset multi-million-dollar deficits plaguing several campuses.

King also mentioned that there is a demand for programs at community colleges involving health care, cybersecurity, the semiconductor field, and cannabis. He hopes that these programs will help attract more students to community colleges across the state.