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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

2-year colleges lead way as Ohio registers student gain

Ohio's public colleges and universities have grown very slightly in student enrollment this year, but the overall increases are coming from the two-year community and technical colleges.

According to preliminary statewide enrollment data released yesterday by the Ohio Board of Regents, university main campuses lost 358 students, or 0.1 percent, from last fall.

University branch campuses decreased by 1,148 students, or 2.7 percent.

Community college campuses grew by 628 students, or 0.5 percent, with technical colleges adding 930 students, or 3.5 percent. The combined figures bring the overall increase to just 52 new students.

Among the state's four-year public institutions, the University of Toledo experienced the greatest drop in enrollment with a 5.4 percent decrease to 19,480 students. Bowling Green State University, meanwhile, saw a 2.5 percent increase, with 18,989 students.

Growth of 2.8 percent was reported at Owens Community College, which jumped over the 20,000-student mark for the first time.

According to the regents, increases this year occurred in the two-year sector of community and technical colleges, partly due to the fact that enrollments are capped at five four-year universities, including Ohio State, Bowling Green, Miami, Kent, and Ohio.

Officials at UT have attributed their decline to a variety of factors, including a decrease in available scholarships to new students this fall and a larger than anticipated graduating class last year.

Rob Sheehan, senior vice provost for academic affairs at UT, briefed the board of trustees this week about movements already under way to recoup more than 1,000 students for next fall.

Major efforts include raising spring scholarships by $1.6 million, increasing need-based aid, hiring more recruiters, and cutting in half the domestic out-of-state surcharges.

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