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College Enrollment Back to Pre-pandemic Levels in Virginia

College enrollment is recovering in Virginia according to an insight report with updated enrollment numbers from institutions across the Commonwealth.

The State Council on Higher Education in Virginia for Virginia (SCHEV) found that 524,483 students enrolled in colleges and universities in Virginia in the fall of 2023 — making for a decrease from 2019 with 375 less students before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it’s significant and shows the value that Virginia students and families are putting on colleges and universities,” said Tom Allison, SCHEV’s Assistant Director of Finance and Innovation.

The news comes as the SCHEV says Virginia is expected to experience a 1% decline in the high school graduate rate in the coming years.

“The idea is that 18 years after the great recession of 2007-2008, there was a small decline in the birth rate, and so 18 years later, we have fewer seniors graduating high school,” Allison explained.

Allison says although the so-called “enrollment cliff” is real given in 2023 there were still 1400 more first-time college students than in 2019.

“That is a decent projection of future stability,” Allison told 8News. “If we maintain the retention and success rates of previous years, those additional students that are starting this fall will continue throughout their career and we can expect continued stability.”

The statistics appeal to the general public as more than 70% of all jobs will require post-secondary education.

“In order for Virginia to remain competitive and to prepare our workforce for the jobs of the future, it’s really important that we maintain a stable enrollment level at our colleges and universities,” said Allison.

It’s important to note that enrollment data does vary from school to school, and not every school has seen an increase in enrollment since 2019.

Source: WRIC