As our erstwhile governor continues in his quixotic quest to follow fellow absentee governor Scott Walker into obscurity, our state’s higher education institutions were warned this week of the obvious–that a good chunk of the money raised in this summer’s Legislative Telethon to Save Higher Education! wouldn’t actually be there this year.
SAVE didn’t save higher ed, nor did the Legislative Telethon. Right now it is looking like our state is going to be short $100 million this year, and the lion’s share of that cut would come from higher ed. And as we know from past experience we will be lucky if that’s all it is.
However, I am happy that one major but not nearly as publicized legislative and policy win this summer seems to actually have worked. Jindal’s original plan (or at least my reading of it) to cut higher education was not just to cut off state funding, but to cut off enrollment and the funding that comes from that, particularly from the universities, and especially from the HBCUs. And as schools start to announce their preliminary fall enrollments, it seems that many more are up rather than down, in contrast to last year which was an enrollment bloodbath especially at the HBCUs.
Even though SUNO’s preliminary overall enrollment is down from my last post, their first time freshman class is still up 45%
SUBR – up 31%
Grambling up a whopping 57%!
And the enrollment wealth wasn’t just at the HBCUs:
All LSU campuses were up. First time freshman enrollment at LSU’s main campus was essentially flat from last year (they were unaffected by the summer change in admission standards, but they still almost matched last year’s record class) but overall enrollment was up. LSUS’s freshman enrollment was up 10%. LSUA didn’t announce (that I saw anyway) how much theirs went up but they did announce their largest overall enrollment ever.
UL Monroe – up 8%
Northwestern State – up 6%
Southeastern – up 5%
And among the other institutions not affected by the revised admission standards (meaning that it wasn’t a zero sum game and that as I have said all along, we were simply keeping college bound kids out of college)
LaTech – up 6%
UL Lafayette – up 9%. At this rate they will see 20,000 students in the next year or two.
And note that a lot of these articles are touting either record enrollments, record freshman classes, or both. The students are there! But we were turning them away!
UNO did not announce their enrollment but insinuated that it is down. Nicholls announced that their enrollment is down. In my opinion, at this point those two institutions are hurt by factors other than just admission standards. One – tuition is now so high that their prospective students are being priced out of the market. Also, I suspect that they are competing directly with UL Lafayette. Not an easy thing to do these days.
I also didn’t see anything about McNeese so won’t conjecture there.
But in all, fall enrollment looks really good so far. Many more are up than down, and our four-year HBCUs were literally saved by the admission requirement changes. And it’s going to be a whole lot harder to cut from a higher education system with robust enrollment than from one that is struggling to survive.
I’m not seeing a whole lot from the community colleges and other two year schools yet – but based on what I’ve seen and heard so far, SOWELA is up and I think SLCC is also up. Southern University at Shreveport is boasting record enrollment, and as stated above, LSUE is also up.
So… Bobby Jindal’s bankrupt policies are still hurting higher ed in the finance office, but without those changes in admission standards over the summer–which I see as a pretty big concession by the Jindal administration since it championed the overly strict standards in the first place–some institutions would have been in a much bigger world of hurt this fall. Now we can at least have a shot at making it to January hoping that the next governor doesn’t have it in for us the way this one has.
But Governor Jindal, you took us on, and you lost. We’re still very much here.