George Mason, Other Virginia Public Universities Prepared to Meet Growing Enrollment

Posted: July 22, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

According to a report titled “Revised Enrollment Demand and Service Projections Through 2012” issued by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) this week, the commonwealth’s public colleges and universities are ready to cope with increasing demand for student enrollment over the next seven years. For its part, George Mason is ready to accommodate an additional 5,000 students beyond its current projections and plans as long as additional educational and general facilities are funded consistent with the university’s Six-Year Capital Plan Program Proposal.

Revised demand projections show that in-state student enrollment at public colleges and universities will increase by 56,510 students over the next seven years, with the majority of the increase (some 40,000 students) involving community colleges. At public four-year institutions, the increase is expected to amount to 16,500 students. For Mason, the revised projection would mean a total student enrollment of nearly 34,000 by 2011, according to the SCHEV report.

“Obviously, both SCHEV and Mason are trying to walk a fine line with these plans—being responsive to demand but also making it clear that responsiveness assumes responsible state action on both operating and capital budgets,” says Provost Peter Stearns. “The projections do go beyond the growth rates in our 2010 plan, which were, however, predicated on no significant increase in state support. They are consistent with some specific initiatives, for example, in Loudoun. We’ll see what actually happens.”

This increase in projected demand at public four-year universities is in large part due to increased enrollment since 2002 beyond the universities’ enrollment targets.

In a press release, SCHEV Executive Director Daniel J. LaVista said, “We want to commend the Commonwealth’s public institutions for responding to the diverse needs and interests of an increasing number of students. Yet we recognize that their continued ability to meet enrollment demand is contingent on the state’s commitment to providing much-needed financial support. College and university leaders have emphasized that in order to continue to meet their commitment to increased enrollments, they will need more faculty members and larger facilities in order to adequately serve these additional students.”

To view the SCHEV revised report, visit the web site.

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