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PHCC enrollment down 12 percent
Fewer Trade Act students cited

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Having fewer Trade Act students contributed to a 12.1 percent drop in spring semester enrollment at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC).

Figures presented to the college’s board on Monday show the number of spring students decreased from 3,245 last year to 2,851 this year.

Although spring does not officially end until Thursday, the college now is in its summer semester.

Jeff Porter, PHCC’s dean of student development services, said many Virginia community colleges recently have seen enrollment declines.

Full-time equivalencies for the spring dropped by 8.9 percent, from 2,089 last year to 1,904 this year, statistics show.

Students are considered full-time if they take a dozen or more credit hours of courses during a semester. The equivalency figure, which determines how much state funding a community college gets — is derived by totaling all of the credit hours that students take and dividing by 12.

The number of spring Trade Act students declined by 12 percent, from 158 last year to 139 this year, figures show.

Through the legislation, formally known as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, people who become unemployed after their jobs go overseas or are lost due to foreign competition can get federal aid to be retrained.

“We’re not seeing nearly as many” Trade Act students now as the college once did, Porter told the board.

In comparison to this year’s spring semester, PHCC had 502 Trade Act students in the spring of 2003. Actual numbers have fluctuated.

Porter said he hopes the decline in Trade Act students means people who lose jobs are finding new ones quickly.

Another factor contributing to the enrollment decline, Porter indicated, was a drop in students taking remedial classes.

The number of full-time, springtime students dropped by 3.8 percent, from 1,499 last year to 1,442 this year, while the number of part-time students dropped by 19.3 percent, from 1,746 to 1,409, according to statistics.

Records indicate that in the past 20 years, differences between numbers of full-time and part-time students have declined. However, spring of this year was the first time that full-timers exceeded part-timers.

The number of students taking “distance learning” courses electronically in the spring dropped by 5.2 percent, from 1,775 last year to 1,682 this year. Still, total course enrollment jumped by 28.7 percent, from 2,690 to 3,463, figures denote.

Porter could not be reached after the meeting for further comment on the enrollment figures.

In another matter, the college board on Monday approved harvesting and selling timber on PHCC’s main campus near Martinsville.

Between 10 and 15 acres on the northeast side of the campus contain mature loblolly pines and some excessively mature Virginia pines, a board report shows.

The Virginia Department of Forestry will oversee the harvesting and sale.

Buyers will be given up to two years to remove the timber. Contracts will include provisions ensuring loggers smooth out the land, take measures to prevent soil erosion and reseed areas traveled on to get to the timber, the report shows.

After harvesting is completed, the area where timber is removed is to be reforested with loblollies the following spring, the report adds.

Timber sale proceeds will go into the college’s coffers. Some will be used to pay the forestry department for its services, the report shows.


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