Enrollment down, but no plans to cut programs

Home Archived News Enrollment down, but no plans to cut programs

Erika Wilhite

Published: December 7, 2005

Enrollment at PJC has fallen again this semester. While there has been much conjecture that this could impact the budget, the administration says that it has no plans to cut any vital programs or lay off any full-time faculty.

“[We] have made no official decisions for programs to cut,” said Gean Ann Emond, vice-president of business affairs. “[so] if anyone has been saying that things are going to be cut, that’s a rumor.”

The exact drop in enrollment is debatable, said Dr. Marshall McLeod, director of institutional research and effectiveness, because it is calculated in a few different ways. A simple head count of day students shows a drop of 2,187 from last year, but in relation to the effect on the budget, McLeod says that the FTE (full time equivalent) figures are a more reliable means of measuring enrollment.

PJC’s FTE figures as of last week are down 5.6 percent from the fall of 2004.  The college began the fall semester down 10.8 percent but has rebounded.

FTEs are calculated differently depending upon the type of credit. With A.A. students, for example, 30 credit hours equal one FTE. Post-secondary adult vocational credits (like the LPN program) are measured differently, with one FTE equal to every 900 hours spent in the classroom. Adult Basic Education, Adult High, and GED prep courses are also accounted for on a 900-1 ratio.

“This is like the stock market – in the course of a year, in the course of a term, the numbers go up and down,” McLeod said. “No two terms are alike. The hurricanes have distorted things so badly; it’s hard to tell what’s causing this [drop]. We suffered the biggest drop [last spring]; from 2004-05 it fell by 6.9 percent. As best I can tell, Ivan didn’t hurt us in terms of funding from the state, but it did hurt us in terms of revenue.”

The drop in enrollment has and will continue to affect the budget, Emond says, but that the impact shouldn’t be too problematic. She said that the administration knew that Hurricane Ivan would impact enrollment, and was prepared to rearrange the 2005-06 budget when the time came for it to be drawn up.

No programs were cut, although the administration trimmed down or cut altogether the funds that they had planned to allocate to developing or strengthening programs, or to purchasing new equipment.

While no full-time faculty members have been or are expected to be laid off, Emond said that adjuncts are an exception.

“Adjuncts differ from full-time faculty,” said Emond, “as the number of adjuncts employed at a college in any given year is directly dependant on the number of students enrolled. There are fewer classes, and naturally that means fewer adjuncts.”

Emond said that the enrollment drop and resulting budget cuts are not expected to adversely affect students or their learning environment.

“We had been told to expect the enrollment to drop, and we cut the amount of fees that we had planned on receiving from students,” Emond said. “Certainly there are discussions, in good years and in bad years, about whether or not certain programs are still needed, still valid, and there were things we had to cut out of the budget, but [nothing is ever cut] unless it’s outlived its usefulness.”

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