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Kentucky colleges see record enrollment in 2009-10.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Total student enrollment at Kentucky's colleges and universities this fall is at an all-time high, according to a report from the state's Council on Post-secondary Education.

That's mainly because more people are enrolled at community and technical colleges throughout the state, according to the report. Kentucky's community college system saw an increase of more than 11 percent from 2008, totaling 100,000.

"We've been seeing pretty consistent growth over the past several years," Kentucky Education Cabinet Secretary Helen Mountjoy said. "There's a growing realization that if you want to succeed in the 21st Century, you need some education and some training after you graduate from high school."

According to the preliminary enrollment figures, 254,560 students are enrolled in public and private colleges this fall. That marks a 5-percent jump in enrollment from last year, and a 40-percent spike over the past decade, the report says. Official numbers will be out in January.

Bob King, the council's president, says the challenge now is to support the students with "adequate faculty, career advisers and available courses." Public colleges and universities have been cut about $78 million over the past 18 months, according to the CPE.

Four-year universities with the largest percentage increases in total enrollment in the state this fall were Kentucky State University and Western Kentucky University at 6.6 percent and 4.6 percent respectively. Some public universities, however, had increases of about 1 percent, the report found.

The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, Murray State and Morehead State all had increases in total enrollment of less than 1 percent. Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky University and Northern Kentucky University had only slightly higher percentage increases.

Overall, it's estimated that just over 98,000 students are enrolled as undergraduates at Kentucky's public universities this fall.

U of L spokesman Mark Hebert said the school is at capacity in terms of classroom space and has not focused on boosting enrollment.

"We don't have any place to put kids and so we've been concentrating on quality," Hebert said.

Still, community and technical colleges account for the largest chunk of students.

That's likely because times are tough financially, Mountjoy said.

Unemployment rates in Kentucky have been rising steadily, with some counties reporting more than 15 percent jobless figures in August.

Mountjoy said enrollment is up at community and technical colleges partly because more people see them as an entry point to higher education, and more people are looking to increase their job skills.

"As people are out of work, they tend to return to school or choose to continue their education so that they're prepared when the new jobs present themselves," Mountjoy said.

NEW RECORD

According to preliminary figures, 254,560 students are enrolled in public and private colleges this fall. That's a 5 percent jump over last year.

BY JOE BIESK, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
COPYRIGHT 2009 Autumn Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Author:Biesk, Joe
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Oct 19, 2009
Words:477
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