Growth in University System Student Enrollment Accelerates
Atlanta — November 8, 2006
The University System of Georgia’s (USG) latest fall enrollment numbers posted a gain of 6,393 students from fall 2005 to fall 2006, reflecting a steady growth in demand for higher education. The latest USG fall enrollment report shows that current enrollment in Georgia’s 35 public colleges and universities stands at an all-time high of 259,945 students.
The 2.5 percent increase over fall 2005 represents a surge from more modest percentage increases in recent years of 1.2 percent from fall 2004 to fall 2005 and 1.5 percent from fall 2003 to fall 2004. While the current growth reflects a larger percentage increase than in the previous two years, it continues a more stable pattern of growth from a series of explosive years of enrollment gains that began in 1998. Over the eight years since 1998, the System has added 59,843 students, or an overall increase of 30 percent.
“To put this in perspective, that is the equivalent of adding almost two new University of Georgia campuses over the last eight years. Managing this type of growth has many challenges,” said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.
“These new numbers indicate that we must continue our efforts to provide the academic programming, the student support and the facilities needed to serve Georgia,” Davis added. “Given that our primary future challenge is to educate even more Georgians to higher levels, we must plan for enrollment gains that may be higher than we are currently seeing.”
The largest gains by type of institution were at the seven-unit state college sector (two-year colleges with limited four-year degrees), where enrollment grew 6.3 percent. The System’s 15 four-year colleges and universities posted overall gains of almost 3 percent and enrollment increased on average 1.7 percent at the four research universities. The System’s nine, two-year colleges posted an average .6 percent increase, although a number of two-year institutions posted gains above 10 percent.
Six USG institutions had a greater than 10 percent increase. Waycross College enrollment jumped the highest in the System, 15.4 percent, to 1,018 students; Middle Georgia College enrollment increased 14 percent to 3,051 students; East Georgia College continued a strong two-year growth spurt with a 13.8 percent increase to 1,719 students; Bainbridge College increased 12.4 percent to 2,783 students; Gainesville State College saw enrollment jump 12.3 percent to 6,719 students; and Southern Polytechnic State University’s enrollment jumped 10.5 percent, to 4,207 students.
“It is important to note that our largest percentage gains in enrollment this fall were at institutions that are either state colleges or two-year colleges,” said Davis. “This underscores the key importance of these institutions as critical access points to higher education. We must continue to ensure Georgians - particularly those who are first-generation college students - have broad access to the University System through these gateway institutions.”
Other institutions posting growth well above the System average were Albany State University, with a 7.6 percent increase to 3,927 students; Kennesaw State University, posting a 7 percent increase to 19,854 students; and Georgia College & State University, with a gain of 6.7 percent, to 6,040 students.
In terms of total enrollment, the University of Georgia continues to lead the System, with 33,959 students. The remaining top five institutions in enrollment are: Georgia State University (26,135 students), Georgia Perimeter College (19,995 students), Kennesaw State University (19,854 students), and Georgia Institute of Technology (17,936 students).
The number of first-time freshmen students in the USG increased from 39,960 students in fall 2005 to 41,060 students in fall 2006. However, the percentage increase in first-time freshmen enrollment from fall 2005 to fall 2006 of 2.8 percent was smaller than the 6.2 percent jump from fall 2004 to fall 2005. USG officials indicate that the drop in the percentage increase of first-time freshmen may reflect the beginning of a slower growth rate over the next few years; however, the number of high school graduates in Georgia continues to increase.
African-American enrollment increased by 2.8 percent, or 1,650 students, from 59,890 students in fall 2005 to 61,540 students in fall 2006 - representing 23.7 percent of total University System enrollment. Both the percentage and number increase in African-American enrollment from fall 2005 to fall 2006 is a gain over fall 2004 to fall 2005, which saw a 1.9 percent (or 1,133 student) increase.
Hispanic enrollment in the USG continues to increase at double-digit rates, with a 10.4 percent jump, or 739 students, up from 7,088 students in fall 2005 to 7,827 students in fall 2006.
The number of students enrolled full-time in the University System increased by 3 percent from fall 2005 to fall 2006 to a System average of 69.3 percent. Full-time enrollment ranged from a high of 94.8 percent at the Medical College of Georgia, to a low of 32.2 percent at Georgia Gwinnett College, the USG’s newest institution that enrolled its first class in fall 2006. These wide differences reflect the unique missions of USG institutions, where two-year and state colleges serve a significant number of students with work and family responsibilities in addition to college study, as opposed to four-year colleges and universities that enroll a higher percentage of full-time students.
While USG overall female enrollment continues to be significantly higher than male enrollment (151,190 females in fall 2006, or 58.2 percent of total enrollment compared to 108,755 males), the percentage increase in male enrollment in the System continues to outpace the percentage increase in female enrollment. Male student enrollment increased from fall 2005 to fall 2006 by 2.8 percent, or 2,967 students, above the overall System average increase. Female enrollment for the same period increased by 2.3 percent, or 3,426 students.