Impacts of evolving perceptions of higher education can be seen locally. Both McMurry and Cisco College are seeing a decrease in enrollment for the summer months. “Tuition driven schools are seeing enrollment challenges and McMurry is too. The enrollment that we projected didn’t happen,” explains Vice President of Academic Affairs at McMurry, Dr. Paul Fabrizio.
Since McMurry did not get the enrollment numbers they projected, they furloughed between 125 and 150 employees for the summer months. Professors will not be affected, however, administration and staff will have to choose to either take off a week of work during the summer, or take a week’s less pay spread out over up to eleven months.
“Its just an unfortunate reality of today’s changing higher education marketplace,” says Fabrizio.
He believes that the overall enrollment decrease is a product of national events.
“If you look at it nationally, the great recession had effect on the psychology of people regarding the value of a college degree.”
Fabrizio says that from his perspective, it seems as though some people are more hesitant now when it comes to taking out loans for their schooling.
Summer enrollment is down at Cisco College as well,but some non-traditional programs are succeeding.
“We have non credit programs such as our fast track welding ,we are doing safety training, childcare training, we are constantly looking at industry and what the job market is and realize that some students want to finish very quickly,” explains Provost of the Abilene campus of Cisco College, Dr. Carol Dupree.
Dupree says that the fast track programs last between six and ten weeks and are a good way to get started, however, she hopes that many of those students come back at some point to take credit courses.
Fabrizio feels as though the students on the fast track now will at some point want to finish out their education as well.
“Longer term, those kids are going to realize that they need an education and at some point we certainly expect them back.”