The number of students applying to attend one of the State University of New York’s 64 campuses plummeted by 20 percent this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor James Malatras said.
Malatras dropped the bombshell in an op-ed published on Empire Report New York.
“This year at the largest system of public higher education in the country — the State University of New York — our applications are down approximately 20 percent, one of the largest annual decreases in the System’s 73-year history,” Malatras said.
Students can apply to a number of colleges before deciding where to enroll. But the figure is an indicator that student supply is way down during the COV-19 outbreak, where colleges have struggled with campus shutdowns and cancelling in-person classes with remote learning.
The chancellor said the COVID-19 outbreak worsened an ongoing trend of declining enrollment in New York and nationally.
SUNY enrollment of first-time or freshmen undergraduate students sunk ten percent in the fall of 2020 compared to the fall of 2019, a SUNY spokesperson said.
According to the National Student Clearinghouse, freshmen undergraduate enrollment declined 13.1 percent nationally in the fall of 2020, an “unprecedented” loss of 327,5000 students from the prior academic year.
The Post previously reported overall enrollment declines of about 5 percent at both SUNY and CUNY.
SUNY’s actual enrollment drop was most pronounced at its 30 community colleges. The number of students overall fell from 192,959 students in the fall of 2019 to 173,930 in the fall of 2020. That’s 19,029 fewer community college students, or a roughly ten percent decline.
Enrollment at the 34 state-operated or four-year undergraduate colleges dropped by a more modest 1 percent, from 222,613 students in the fall of 2019 to 220,290 this fall, according to SUNY data.
Overall, SUNY’s overall enrollment has fallen from 471,188 in 2010 to 394,220 in 2010.
The drop in enrollment has taken a toll on nearly of New York private and public colleges, the National Clearinghouse reports.
The number of students at of New York’s higher-education institutions dropped by 43,027 students from 1,044,388 in the fall of 2019 to 1,001,361 in the fall of 2020 — a 4.1 percent decline.
SUNY must retool to meet a changing workforce, Malatras said.
“The 18-year-old graduate fresh out of high school is more and more joined by a broad cross-section of individuals from all walks of life—our active military service members to working parents—many of whom are looking to switch careers or update their skills for the changing workforce,” Malatras said.
“We must embrace the reality that education is also no longer a static two- or four-year process, but a life-long journey in which people—me, you, everyone—will need to retrain and learn new skills at various points during their lives and careers.”