Virginia colleges, universities see 1.3% enrollment drop this year

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(Photo: Courtesy CollegeDegrees360/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0/CC BY-SA 2.0 via MGN Online)

(Photo: Courtesy CollegeDegrees360/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0/CC BY-SA 2.0 via MGN Online)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Enrollment at Virginia’s colleges and universities declined 1.3% this year.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Tuesday that the figure amounts to a large sigh of relief.

University leaders and state officials feared a drop of as much as 20% because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia said there are 6,658 fewer students at Virginia’s public and private institutions of higher education this fall. The biggest drop was at community colleges, where enrollment fell 10%.

Enrollment at public four-year schools was essentially flat. Private schools had an increase mainly because of large gains made by Liberty University.

The enrollment figures illustrate the durability of colleges and universities despite the daunting economic challenges of the pandemic.

“It’s still the best and most predictable pathway to a middle-class-or-above lifestyle,” said Tod Massa, policy analytics director for SCHEV.

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