Fall 2020 Statistics: MC Enrollment Continues to Fall

Covid adds to a long-term decline in student numbers across all campuses


Montgomery College experienced a decline of nearly six percent in student numbers in Fall 2020, as Covid-19 added to a nearly eight-year trend of falling enrolment, according to statistics released by the MC Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE) in January.

The number of students enrolling in classes fell by 5.8% compared to the previous Fall semester, with 20,037 students enrolling in classes, down from 21,260 in Fall 2019. The total number of credit hours taken by students fell by 6.5%.

These falls in enrolment represent the continuation of a long-term decline in student numbers and credit hours across all MC campuses. The number of students has declined each Fall semester since 2012. Enrollment has declined 16% since Fall 2016, and 23% since Fall 2012.

The TP/SS campus has experienced the steepest declines in enrolment over that period, with a 21% fall in student numbers since Fall 2017.

In the report on enrolment trends, the OIRE notes that “The college did not achieve the level of enrollment as anticipated,” putting the greater decline down to the influence of Covid-19. Yet, the report notes, “in spite of the public health crisis, the college came within 5 points of its enrollment projection.”

A National Trend

The declining number of students is in line with the national picture of higher education. Undergraduate college enrollment of all types has fallen in 2020, according to statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse Center (NSCC). Particularly large declines were experienced by community colleges and enrollment among people of color.

Though the NSCC acknowledges that its data may be somewhat patchy, signs point to nationwide community college enrollment being down by as much as 9.5% compared to Fall 2019, making MC’s enrollment declines smaller than the average.

Changing Demographics and Modes of Delivery

The MC OIRE report’s statistics are comprised of enrollment in the third week of Fall 2020. These statistics are delivered to the state government, and have consequences for MC’s budget in the future: as the report says, “State aid for institutions is based on official credit hour enrollment.”

The report shows that while all demographics are experiencing a decline, the enrollment of white and male students have declined at the greatest rate. Female students now make up more than 55% of the student body, up from 53% a few semesters ago.

The proportion of older students has also declined, while the number of 18-20-year-olds has increased. Dual-enrollment high school students now constitute 7.6% of all MC students—up almost 60% since Fall 2019.

Meanwhile, enrollment in distance learning courses has increased by 31% over the past four years. There are also signs that more students are taking courses on multiple campuses.