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Published: Wednesday, 5/10/2006

Returning students down by 10% at UT

Enrollment among continuing students at the University of Toledo for the coming fall semester is down by 10 percent, or 925 students, compared to last year, school officials said yesterday.

Hardest hit is the college of education's early childhood education department, Robert Sheehan, senior vice provost for academic affairs, told the UT board of trustees' academic affairs committee.

"At this point, our university and universities across the state have begun to outprice the market," said Mr. Sheehan, arguing that the cost of an early-education degree may be prohibitively greater than salaries for jobs in that field.

Declining enrollment has been a continuing problem for UT, which had 20,594 students in the fall of 2003. It had 17,792 students in the recently ended spring semester, a decline of 1.4 percent from 2005 that cost the school about $3 million in state funds.

Still, Mr. Sheehan expects the number of students registering for the next semester to rebound in the coming summer months, since those students know they will not be closed out of classes based on their registration time.

"It is an increasing pattern among students to register later," Mr. Sheehan said.

In what Mr. Sheehan called a "very positive sign" regarding recruitment efforts, UT admission records list 9,634 new applicants for the fall semester, a 4 percent increase over the previous year.

Enrollment influences the state subsidies received by a public university, such that a dramatic decline can produce budget shortfalls and squeeze resources, a problem that could stymie any expansion and renovation plans being considered by the trustees.

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