Harford Community College enrollment declines by 6.7 percent

Harford Community College suffered another enrollment decrease this semester, when the number of students enrolled for spring 2018 fell by 6.7 percent.

That equates to 400 fewer students on campus and the equivalent of 158 full-time students, Dianna G. Phillips, the college president, reported to the HCC Board of Trustees Tuesday night.

The loss of students wasn’t a huge financial loss, Phillips said, adding the college missed its budgeted enrollment revenue for the semester by $23,258.

Still, ongoing enrollment declines have been blamed, in part, for steady tuition increases that have occurred at HCC over the past decade. Phillips and the trustees have agreed to a 2.0 percent tuition increase for the next fiscal year starting July 1.

Enrollment for the spring semester declined, Phillips said, because “we’re losing part-time students.”

The percentage of full-time equivalent students decreased by only .6 percent and “the credit load is stable for full-time students,” the HCC president said.

Phillips said one of HCC’s competitive disadvantages is that Community College of Baltimore County, is offering a 22-month degree program.

“We believed that has impacted us,” she said. “That is the environment we’re operating in as a college.”

In-person registration for the HCC semester increased by 4 percent, but online registration decreased by 8 percent.

“We’re trying to get to some real meaty data so we can design an effective intervention program,” Phillips said.

“Data is all well and good,” Dr. James J. Valdes, a trustee, said, “and I love data, but what are we doing to compete with these programs?”

“We’re behind the eight ball,” Phillips said about competing with some online programs, especially the CCBC program.

“Then it’s time to get in front of the eight ball,” Valdes replied.

The president told the board the college would be rolling out more online offerings in the fall in an effort to neutralize some of the competition’s offerings.

There was a bit of good news in the enrollment report as the president told the trustees there was an increase of 24 percent in out-of-state students who registered for the spring.

“We see that athletics and allied health [the nursing program] are helping with out-of-county and out-of-state students,” Phillips said.

The president also praised the college’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, which each won their regular season conference titles and their conference’s postseason tournaments to advance to regional competition.

This story has been updated with a correction on the amount of the latest tuition increase at Harford Community College.

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