Officials at Cal State Northridge said Tuesday that the earthquake-stricken campus' official enrollment this fall declined to 24,310 students, the lowest level for a fall semester in 24 years.
The campus' head count reflects a loss of 2,972 students from the 27,282 tally a year ago, a drop of 10.9%. The last time the campus had a lower fall semester student population was in the fall of 1970, when official enrollment was tallied at 22,721, records show.
The latest CSUN enrollment figures also show the campus lost 503 students alone from last spring's 24,813 student population. That also is highly unusual, because campus enrollments in the fall almost always are larger than in the spring.
Campus officials have been reluctant to attribute the losses to students abandoning the campus in the wake of the heavy damage it suffered in the magnitude 6.8 Northridge earthquake in January. But the latest figures back up student reports of their classmates leaving.
CSUN's enrollment, which hit a peak of 31,531 in fall, 1988, has been declining in recent years along with the entire Cal State system--losses officials have attributed to the recession and several years of fee increases.
However, CSUN had been losing students more rapidly, and the earthquake has only accelerated that trend. In contrast, the 20-campus Cal State system, including CSUN, projects its total enrollment this fall will remain at about the 326,000-student level of a year ago.