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Enrollment Outlook Positive At Local Colleges, Universities Despite Coronavirus

Edward Waters College
Lindsey Kilbride
Edward Waters College

Fall enrollment numbers at Jacksonville-area colleges and universities are surprisingly high given the economic toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken, and some schools are even reporting record numbers.

Edward Waters College has more students enrolled this fall than they have had in over a decade. That number is up 4% over fall 2019 and ties the highest headcount enrollment the college has seen in over 15 years.

“In the midst of this incredibly calamitous pandemic our committed senior administrative and enrollment management team, staff, and faculty worked diligently in redoubling their supportive efforts and they along with our donors and friends truly provided us with the difference-making support needed for us to experience this extremely positive enrollment outcome for EWC,” said Zachary Faison, Jr., President and CEO of EWC.

The University of North Florida and Jacksonville University are both reporting slight declines in total enrollment, but they’re seeing gains in other areas.

While the total headcount at UNF fell by about 1.6% this year, the university welcomed its largest freshman class ever, which is 4% larger than last year.

“Moreover, nearly all the growth in the freshman class versus last year was among students from traditionally underrepresented populations. That segment of our freshman class grew by 12% versus last year, and students from those populations represent almost 34% of this year’s freshman class,” Amanda Ennis, Media Relations Coordinator at UNF, told WJCT News via email.

JU also saw its largest incoming freshman class in school history this year, though the university’s total enrollment fell 2.7%

“With so much uncertainty heading into the fall, we prepared ourselves for a significant impact from the pandemic, and we’re pleased to see our enrollment numbers are better than expected,” JU’s Communications Director Laura Phelps told WJCT News in an email. “Although the semester is far from over, we are very hopeful!”

Meanwhile, Florida State College at Jacksonville enrollment is down by about 9% when compared to last year, which officials say is consistent with other state colleges across Florida. 

"While our numbers are slightly down from our beginning enrollment last Fall, FSCJ provides multiple enrollment opporutnities each term and we are still enrolling for Fall B and C sessions. FSCJ has multiple class options and support systems in place for our students, including providing technology and online resources to assist our students as they reenter campus this Fall, whether online or in person," FSCJ's Chief Communications Officer Jill Johnson told WJCT News in an email.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.