W.Va. college enrollment, graduations increase

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Higher education, at both the two- and four-year college levels, has made improvements over the past five years, but faces challenges on issues such as student retention and potential budget cuts, the chancellors of the state's two college systems told legislators Monday.Enrollment and the number of degrees conferred have increased during the period. Despite that, only about 17 of every 100 ninth-graders in the state will go on to earn a college degree, the chancellors told the Joint Standing Committee on Education.James Skidmore, chancellor for Community and Technical Colleges, said nearly 70 percent of all state high school graduates enrolling in community colleges require remedial, or developmental, courses."I call it the quicksand of higher education," he said. "When a student goes into developmental education, they frequently never get out."
Likewise, Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Paul Hill said that while enrollment figures at the state's four-year colleges have increased, one in four freshmen do not return for their sophomore year."We're losing too many students between the time they enter college, and when they are to return for their sophomore year," he said.Four-year colleges are also facing potential budget cuts in excess of $24 million next year, if they are required to make 7 1/2 percent budget cuts for the 2013-14 budget year, Hill said.Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin directed many state agencies, including higher education, to build 7 1/2 percent cuts into their budget requests.Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.
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