by Chris Davis
JACKSON, Miss.--The announcement came Monday from the state college board that enrollment is up from last year. But as enrollment continues to grow the preliminary numbers show the trend of increasing enrollment from year to year is slowing.
Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Board President Dr. Hank Bounds told us last week that he anticcipated the announcement.
"We've had some real good fortune over the past several years to grow dramatically," he said. "We've noticed a considerable slowdown of that growth." About 80,000 students are enrolled in the state's universities. The increase is 457 students. A statement released by the IHL Board showed Alcorn State, Mississippi State, JSU, The "W", and Southern saw decreases in enrollment.
Delta State, Valley and Ole Miss saw increases. The University of Mississippi Medical Center had the largest increase of any institution at 5.2 percent.
Bounds said increasing enrollment and retention are two ways of achieving increased revenues. He said the state budget contributions have decresed over the past decade, causing tuition hikes that have sent parents deeper into their bank accounts to pay for their students' education.
Bounds said some of the consequences of decreased revenues are the way in which faculty are compensated.
"There are dramatic differences in how we compensate our folks versus how other states compensate their faculty. This is not just an instate competition, we are competing with our rival institutions in other states and if we don't remain competitive, we'll lose our best and brightest," he said.
The figures released Monday say Mississippi, on average, pays 15 percent lower than the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) average, more than doubling the gap in the past decade.
Bounds stressed in the news release that he does not believe quality has suffered.
“Our universities have worked hard to increase efficiency while maintaining the quality of instruction," he said.