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Last sem’s undergrad enrollment up by 7%, despite problems with remote learning

The UPLB student enrollment rate showed no significant changes in the university’s first semester under the remote learning set-up, with the number of undergraduates currently enrolled being slightly greater than the number of enrollees recorded in the past three years.  

Problems left and right took center stage at the first semester of A.Y. 2020-2021, with the semester before already affected by the Taal Volcano eruption and eventually ending prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (READ: ‘Walang iwanan’: UP faculty push through mass promotion despite BOR decision)

Then, with a rushed start that involved faculty members rushing to finish course packs and adjust to new learning programs, the new school year began. What came after were students struggling under the weight of mental health and financial problems while passing academic requirements and the whole campus having to get back on their feet after a series of storms the last two months of that academic year.

(Related stories: Overworked UPLB faculty criticize rushed school year open, Students petition for academic ease a month of remote learning)

Despite these challenges, data from the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) showed undergrad enrollment increased slightly unlike previous semesters, putting to mind the newly enrolled freshmen.

According to the OUR, there are 9,496 undergraduate students currently enrolled for the 1st semester of A.Y 2020-2021, which is a 7% increase from the 8, 859 undergraduate enrollees in the 1st semester of A.Y 2019-2020. Meanwhile, there were 8,758 undergrads in A.Y. 2018-2019 and 8,573 in A.Y. 2017-2018, and 10,842 in A.Y. 2016-2017.

In contrast, the number of undergraduate enrollees for midyear has dropped by 805%, with only 362 undergraduate students enrolled compared to the 3,277 students enrolled in midyear 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of enrollees in the UPLB Graduate School (GS) for this semester is lower relative to the previous years. 2,113 graduate students were enrolled for this semester, which is a decrease from the 2,445 enrollees in A.Y. 2019-2020, and 2,387 students in A.Y. 2018-2019. 

Additionally, 368 graduate students were enrolled for the recent midyear, which is a significant decrease from the 645 enrolled students in 2019 and the 641 enrolled students in 2018.

Classes dismissed

Enrollment issues have prevailed all throughout the pandemic, as learning shifted to online means, with an initial report projecting that there will be a 70% decrease in college enrollment.

In a press briefing by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) last May, Chairman Prospero de Vara noted the urgent need for financial assistance for private higher educational institutions (HEI) and SUCs.

De Vera noted that a “tremendous” amount of OFWs went home after losing their jobs in the pandemic, meaning that their children wouldn’t be able to go to school. Additionally, he warned that lower enrollment as a result of economical factors would possibly lead to faculty layoffs or school closures.

In a separate meeting, de Vera shared that a number of colleges and universities would shut down due to the pandemic.

“Some schools have informed CHED that they will be closing down for good, since the enrollment turnout was really low. The parents and students are afraid, so some have reported this to [us],” de Vera said.

Last July also showed that even high schools were not spared from this, as the Department of Education (DepEd) Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that it would be unlikely to reach the 27 million enrollees from the year prior. The department was aiming for 80% of the 27 million from the year prior, which was 21,600,000. At that time, however, only 16,610,703 learners were enrolled across all basic education levels.

Worries were confirmed in September as data from DepEd revealed that out of the total 14,435 private schools in the country, 865 private schools would not be operating last A.Y. 2020-2021. Out of these 865, 374 of these schools cited reasons of low or no enrollment as the cause for their shutdown.

Additionally, enrollment in private schools dropped to 47%, with only two million students enrolled in private schools at the time compared to the 4.3 million from the year prior. According to the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA), an organization of private schools, said that they projected a 50% enrollment rate for private schools in the upcoming school year.

While enrollment in private schools dropped dramatically, public schools remained mostly unaffected, retaining 98% of the enrollment year from the previous year. All in all, enrollment for the incoming school year was 87.5% at the time. [P]

[P] File Photo by Dianne Sanchez

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