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Enrollment shows no signs of slowing down
Photos and Story by James Hill
Like the long summer days, Portland Community College’s summer term enrollment is red hot.
According to the college’s fourth-week summer enrollment report (the standard week for reporting enrollment figures), the college’s total headcount increased by 8.8 percent and 23.1 percent in full-time equivalent (FTE) year over year. The FTE numbers determines how much money PCC gets from the state’s community college funding formula. It’s the eighth consecutive term of growth.
Total headcount for the summer session is 23,400 (an increase of 1,884 from summer 2008) and 3,383 in FTE (increase of 635 from a year ago). The enrollment figures reflect the number of students taking classes for that specific term. These numbers cannot be added to other terms’ totals to get an overall enrollment, as many students who are enrolled throughout the year would be counted more than once. FTE is the total number of full- and part-time students added up to calculate one full-time student.
The need for affordable community college education hasn’t gone unnoticed by President Obama, who recently proposed a $12 billion investment in community colleges across the nation, saying the funding will drive expansions and reforms in the system that are needed to help people get educated in the struggling economy.
“It’s good news for PCC, for our many partners in the business community and, most importantly, for our students,” said PCC President Preston Pulliams. “This White House initiative acknowledges that community colleges will be a critical component of the economic recovery. This means more innovation in education, more trained Oregonians in the workforce.”
PCC is doing its part right now as evident by the enrollment surge. Cascade Campus’s Arts and Professions Division, which includes programs like business administration, computer science and trade extension, has grown by 55 percent in FTE this term. In Rock Creek Campus’ Business and Humanities Division enrollment has surged by 45.6 percent and Sylvania Campus’s Science and Engineering Division has grown by 32.5 percent FTE.
“With eight-straight terms of growth, especially in program areas that focus on career training, the community already knows that PCC is a valuable option in this down economy,” Pulliams added. “What President Obama’s announcement and our recent bond passage means is that we have the tools to keep the college accessible and affordable for all, which in turn will be the engine to get our economy back on its feet.”
Each of the comprehensive campuses offers complete paths to an associate’s degree at their respective locations. Here is how they fared:
Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St.
The campus, in inner Northeast Portland, is home to the trades and industry, education, first responder, fire science and business administration programs. It swelled by 31.7 percent in FTE and 27.1 percent in overall headcount.
Rock Creek Campus, 17705 N.W. Springville Road
This campus in Washington County, known for diesel service repair, welding, landscape technology and biology programs, experienced an increase of 30.4 percent in total FTE and 25.7 percent in total headcount.
Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.
The southwest Portland campus – the largest in PCC’s 1,500-square-mile district and housing such programs as machine manufacturing technology, early childhood education, sign language interpreter and automotive technology – experienced a 12.2 percent increase in student enrollment and 15.7 percent growth in FTE.
Southeast Center, 2305 S.E. 82nd and Division
The campus, which allows students to complete many of the courses toward a college transfer degree, saw its core enrollment increase by more than 24.7 percent summer term. The Southeast Center also offers Aviation Science courses, Adult Basic Education courses to help students prepare for the GED, and English for Speakers of Other Languages classes in addition to its core credit classes. Welding courses are offered at the Swan Island Training Center on Portland’s eastside to ease capacity issues at welding program’s base at the Rock Creek Campus.