Enrollment Up, Ending Eight-Year Slide

Virginia Peninsula Community College announced its fall enrollment numbers for credit and non-credit students are up from a year ago, ending an eight-year decline.

While the numbers aren’t official yet, Steven Felker, the director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at the College, said he expects the final count for credit instruction to be close to 6,018 students and for full-time equivalent students (FTEs4) to be about 3,377.

“Those numbers represent a 3.2%  increase in both students and FTEs when compared to final numbers from the prior year,” he said.

Dr. Towuanna Porter Brannon said the entire community will see the benefits.

“Increased enrollment is not solely good news for the College. It's good news for businesses seeking highly trained talent to sustain our regional workforce,” she said.

Virginia Community Colleges (VCCS) as a whole is anticipating a 1.6% increase in students and a 0.2% decrease in FTES.

A sustained period of declining enrollment at VPCC began in 2014 and was exacerbated in 2020 with the pandemic.

Felker cited several factors for the fall increase:

  • A return to more in-person, on-campus class options (35% more than in fall 2021);
  • Substantial growth, 28%, in the number of high school dual enrollment students;
  • An increase in the average credit hour load of regular enrollment students (3% higher);
  • Growth in student enrollment in IT programming (15% higher for both the associate of science in information technology and the associate of applied science in information systems technology) and several programs that had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and its limits on in-person instruction (57% higher for the AAS in computer-aided drafting and design and 32 percent higher for the AAS in automotive technology).

Todd Estes, vice president of Workforce Innovation, credits the increase to working with local and regional partners to serve the community.

“By aligning our efforts, we can reach more job-seekers and then better prepare them for the great jobs available in our region,” he said.

The College has partnered with the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and the Virginia Ship Repair Association and is participating in the What’s Next Initiative. The College is opening a new trades facility in Toano in January 2023 to expand access to workforce training.

“We are also actively expanding our relationships with local employers to ensure we meet their unique needs in critical industries like healthcare, information technology, and business,” he said. “By focusing on efforts like these and continuing to emphasize career preparation for those who most need it, we are very optimistic about our ability to expand the workforce training pipelines most needed by our region’s key industries.”

Felker also noted, while again not final, non-credit numbers have increased dramatically, with 606 students and 39,037 contact hours. That is a 49.6% increase in students and a 54.5% increase in contact hours from fall 2021.

He cited new and expanded course options for phlebotomy and commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, and the return to more in-person class offerings as factors in the increase.