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Texas' low college enrollment concern for education board

Oct. 10, 2000

Minority entrance up, officials say

By BLAIR MARTIN

Staff writer

Concern for low college enrollment within the state was the topic of a noon luncheon, sponsored by the department of education, on campus Friday.

Guest speaker Dr. Don Brown, higher education commissioner for Texas, said that although the state is enjoying a strong economy and high prosperity, there is concern with the decrease in the state's college participation rate.

In order to maintain competitive among the other larger states, Brown said Texas must increase its college population by 500,000 students within the next 15 years.

According to his studies, Brown said that during 1987 to 1998, the number of Texas college students ages 18 to 24 grew 4 percent, and the national average grew from 26 percent to 31 percent.

Brown introduced several strategies for increasing the state's college enrollment by the year 2015.

'In order to make this goal, it is important to look at Texas and see the major gaps that exist at all levels and degrees within the state,' he said.

Nearly 1 million people are enrolled in either a public or private college in Texas.

Brown said one gap that is growing among Texans is related to their ethnicity.

He said he has found that the percentage of Hispanics and African Americans in college has increased.

Under the state's current routine, Brown said he estimates that total enrollment for Texas would increase by 170,000 students, which would mostly be seen at community colleges.

He suggested the state's current high school curriculum should be the standard for 2008.

'Preparation is crucial to the student,' Brown said. 'The curriculum has to not only be responsive to state and regional needs, but [has to] stimulate creativity and adaptability.'

Although the plans are preliminary for the time and have not yet reached the state legislature, Brown said that even a 1-percent increase in enrollment would mean an additional 190,000 more students enrolled in Texas.

'We are not doing our share,' Brown said. 'Our enrollment should be among the other top-10 population states.'