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Historic drop in college enrollment nationally; ND colleges see smaller decrease

Stephanie Osborne quote
Stephanie Osborne quote(KFYR)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 7:36 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Nationally, enrollment in higher education institutions has decreased significantly since the pandemic began.

According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment is down 6.5% compared to two years ago, which is the largest two-year enrollment drop in the last 50 years.

North Dakota’s numbers haven’t been quite so steep, and in the case of some universities, such as Dickinson State University, enrollment has increased.

“Students that are interested or deciding to go college, that number is kind of going down. But we, in this specific area of the country, don’t have that quite as much as other areas. So we still have a pretty good pool of students that are graduating and going to college,” said Stephanie Osborne, admissions director at DSU.

On the whole, North Dakota colleges and universities experienced a 3.46% decrease in enrollment from 2019, and a 1.4% decrease from 2020.

However, several higher education institutions, including Dakota College at Bottineau, Dickinson State University, Valley City State University, and the University of North Dakota have seen increases in students since 2019.

It’s worth noting the trend of fewer students in North Dakota began long before the pandemic: there has been a decrease in students in the public university system in North Dakota every year since 2011.

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