NIC enrollment down 3 percent for fall 2005 despite a jump in new students

North Idaho College posted a 3.2 percent drop in enrollment for the fall of 2005, despite areas of major growth, such as in new students and in dual enrollment.

Fall enrollment of 4,373 students, a decrease of 146 students, can largely be attributed to a strong economy and flourishing job market, according to NIC President Michael Burke.

“The labor market in North Idaho is strong right now, which usually means more people have jobs and fewer people are seeking degrees and certificates,” Burke said. “However, the flexibility of being a community college allows us to continue to adapt to the needs of the community, which we've done by changing the way we deliver our courses and programs.”

NIC's high school dual credit program is an example of that, according to Burke. Dual credit, which allows eligible high school juniors and seniors to enroll in NIC courses for both high school and college credit, has expanded in the last year to include more courses than ever before. Dual credit experienced a 17.98 percent increase over last fall, growing from 228 to 269 students.

Despite an overall decrease in enrollment, NIC experienced a 12.6 percent increase in new students, from 1,449 in 2004 to 1,631 this fall.

“We know we're attracting more students each year, so this year's decrease really just shows a decrease in retention,” NIC Vice President of Student Services Bruce Gifford said. “This is also a reflection of the market because students are getting jobs before they finish programs and graduate. Still, we're working with a private recruitment and retention firm to take a look at what we could be doing better.” 

The number of students enrolled in NIC's academic transfer programs is down 2.98 percent, from 3,652 to 3,534 and the college's professional-technical programs saw a 10.8 percent drop from 639 to 570 students.

“More people are opting to take short-term, noncredit courses through the NIC Workforce Training Center rather than enroll in technical or academic programs,” Gifford said. “When the job market is hot, it's people choose to get the training quickly through NIC's noncredit side and then go to work. The fact remains, one way or another, NIC is helping more students than ever before.”

North Idaho College's Workforce Training Center posted a 37 percent increase in noncredit duplicated enrollments for fiscal year 2005, up from 9,305 in 2004 to a record 12,795 in 2005. 

NIC's for-credit enrollment has grown 5.8 percent over the past five years and this year's enrollment of 4,373 is still the third largest in NIC's history.

Idaho's colleges and universities traditionally announce their enrollment on the 10th instructional day of each semester.

Gifford will give a more detailed enrollment report to the NIC Board of Trustees at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 28.

For More Information
Assistant to the President for Community Relations Kent Propst, (208) 769-3316

Posted: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005

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