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Undergraduate enrollment continues to show decline compared with a year ago

March 11, 2021
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center says undergraduate student numbers for spring 2021 are 4.5% below spring 2020 enrollment.

Undergraduate enrollment for the spring semester at U.S. higher-education institutions is showing a level of decline comparable to the numbers posted in the fall semester, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Preliminary numbers as of Feb. 11 show that undergraduate enrollment has fallen 4.5% compared with spring 2020 numbers.

Graduate enrollment for the spring is up 4.3%; overall, enrollment in colleges and universities is down 2.9% this spring compared with last.

The Center has issued several reports in the last year tracking higher education enrollment patterns and how they have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

[From October 2020: College freshman enrollment plummets in the midst of the pandemic]

The type of institution with the most severe decrease in enrollment is at community colleges. Spring enrollment at those institutions has dropped 9.5%—the same percentage drop they experienced in the fall semester.

On the other hand, enrollment at primarily online higher education institutions is up 7% this spring compared with spring 2020.

Among demographic groups, enrollment fell the most among international students—numbers among undergraduate international students dropped by 15.6% compared with spring 2020, and the number of international graduate students declined by 5.2%.

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