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Community Colleges Say Enrollment Up

Officially ending a four-year enrollment slump, the county’s three community colleges Tuesday posted a 5.8% enrollment gain as registration came to a close.

“Everyone is very, very pleased that we have the students back,” said Barbara Buttner, a spokeswoman for the Ventura County Community College District. “We are looking forward to a strong and challenging semester.”

The bulk of the gain is attributed to the return of students with bachelor’s degrees, many of whom stopped taking classes at the district in 1993, when the state raised tuition for four-year degree holders from $6 to $50 a unit.

Overall, the district has reported an almost 60% increase in students with bachelor’s degrees, with Oxnard College boosting its numbers by nearly 150%.

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Prior to the $50 tuition hike in the fall of 1992, the district counted 1,510 four-year degree holders, Buttner said. By fall, 1995, that number had dropped to 1,000.

But with the close of registration Monday, the district had enrolled 1,559 students with bachelor’s degrees.

In addition to the return of those students, Moorpark College President Jim Walker attributed his college’s gain to 10 new night classes being taught at Newbury Park High School and the willingness of faculty members to accept as many students as possible into the classes.

“All of these little things have contributed to a big-time gain,” he said, referring to Moorpark College’s increase--more than 6%.

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Oxnard College also posted a 6% lift in enrollment, and the student body at Ventura College grew by nearly 5%.

Still, Chancellor Philip Westin has warned that the district must continue to boost enrollment if it doesn’t want to lose nearly $2.1 million in state funds.

“We just can’t sit back and breathe easily now,” Buttner said. “This is going to be an ongoing effort to recapture . . . first-time students.”


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