Private Universities Keep Enrollments Up in a Down Economy

Michael Bevis, business school chairman at the University of Phoenix, San Diego, is looking forward to a higher enrollment this year compared to last.

“We don’t receive state funding like traditional schools, so we’re not cutting programs and laying off faculty,” he said. “That’s probably why our popularity is growing in comparison to other universities.”

The school, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, has its headquarters in Arizona with campuses nationwide.

As of June, the student count at the local campus was 5,200 against 4,300 at the same time last year. That number takes into account enrollments at what the private, nationwide university calls “learning centers.”

The San Diego campus has two in Kearny Mesa, and one each in Chula Vista, downtown San Diego, Palm Desert, El Centro and San Marcos.

San Diego-based National University, which also has bachelor’s and master’s programs, expects student enrollment to be roughly the same this year as in 2008, said David Neville, director of information and community relations.

While the downturn in the economy has prevented some people from entering college for the first time or returning to complete degrees, Neville said he thinks that number is being offset by those “who want to come back to retool their careers.”

One change he has observed, however, is that more students are opting to take classes online versus in regular classroom settings.

“This year, for the first time, more than 50 percent are taking a course online,” he said.

Nonprofit National University has 28 campuses throughout California and one in Nevada.

Specialized Curriculum
Economic conditions aside, one small, private college has maintained a consistent student count by offering a specialized curriculum.

Marketa Hancova, dean of education at Platt College of San Diego, which offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, currently has an enrollment of 280 students — on par with its annual average of 300.

“The interest is constant because of the niche we are filling in the market,” Hancova said. “We are highly specialized.”

The school focuses on graphic design, video production, Web design and development, as well as animation, and it remains small by choice, she emphasized.

“Because we’re small, students feel that they’re not just a number,” she said. “I am a dean and I know all the students. I also teach. I want to know what’s going on.” (San Diego Business Journal)

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of