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Enrollment up at PDCCC

FRANKLIN—Virginia’s community colleges saw record enrollment for the 2009-10 academic year.

Locally, Paul D. Camp Community College’s enrollment was up 1.1 percent to 2,515 and its full-time equivalency number, which counts students based on the number of credit hours taken, increased 7.3 percent to 982.

Dr. Douglas Boyce, president of PDCCC, said the institution has broken several enrollment records. He said it’s likely due to the slowdown in the economy.

“It’s either people who’ve lost jobs and are coming back to school or families that are cash-strapped and looking for a way to save money on education. Those are the two primary factors I think that have impacted our enrollment growth over the last several years,” he said.

The overall headcount at Virginia’s community colleges increased 7.2 percent over 2008-09 numbers. The system’s full-time equivalency numbers increased 12.8 percent. A single full-time equivalent represents the enrollment of 30 hours of academic credit.

“This is great news that should be embraced and celebrated across Virginia,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s community colleges. “There is a clear and present need to increase the number of postsecondary graduates in our commonwealth and in our country. More and more people are hearing that call.”

“It’s a small increase in bodies through the door, but those who are coming are taking more classes and likely more are coming full time,” said Jeffrey Kraus, the assistant vice chancellor for public relations for the state’s community colleges.

Boyce said the full-time equivalency enrollment has grown steadily in recent years, adding that the college used to have around 25 percent of its enrollment taking a full-time load.

“We’re up over 30 percent of the students taking a full load and down to about 68 or 69 percent taking a part-time load,” he said. “So that increases our FTE faster than our headcount is going up.”

The full-time equivalency number is especially important, Boyce said, because it’s what the budget is based upon.

State budget cuts have cost the system $64 million in funding since 2008, and that figure could grow to $105 million in fiscal year 2012.

Tidewater Community College was the state’s third-fastest-growing community college, with its headcount increasing more than 13 percent over last year’s numbers. Tidewater’s full-time equivalency number increased more than 17 percent.