Declining number of young students has led to drop in CVTC’s enr - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Declining number of young students has led to drop in CVTC’s enrollment


Eau Claire (WQOW)- The numbers at an Eau Claire college aren't lining up like they were just a few years ago.  Enrollment is down at CVTC because of a smaller pool of younger students.

The recession does not bring back good memories, but there was a silver lining for one local college.  At CVTC, enrollment numbers increased at that time because people who were out-of-work were looking for affordable solutions to improve their skills.

"A lot of the people that were laid off during that time were working in some type of production capacity," explains CVTC President Bruce Barker.

"You had folks going back to school that had already been employed for a long period of time," points out Dan Lytle with the Eau Claire Job Center.

Enrollment spiked in 2011, but since then, the technical college has seen its numbers drop and experts say it could continue because of one simple reason.

"We've seen really statewide and certainly district-wide that the K-12 population is decreasing every year," Barker says.  "We've certainly done studies all the way down to the kindergarten range and while there are a few bumps where it comes back, it will never come back to what today's population is."

CVTC believes it has one advantage over most four-year-universities; it's ability to attract non-traditional students.

"You don't have as much time to invest.  You don't have as much money to invest," says Lytle.  "So you have to make sure that you are getting an immediate return."

Some of those areas where students have been able to get in and out of the tech school quickly and get a job are in industries such as health care and manufacturing.

"What they do really well is they immediately respond and edit and change their curriculum according to employer needs," Lytle recalls.  "The skills that are driven and taught to you are applicable immediately following graduation where in a lot of cases, more of the pre-requisite, the non-core classes that you have to go through in a Bachelor's Degree aren't really conducive to immediate work."

So even while CVTC's numbers drop, its ability to adapt to the ever-changing economy could give it a leg up on its competition down the line.

CVTC says tuition will be going up next year by 4.5 percent at all Wisconsin public technical colleges.  But even though tuition is increasing, the school's revenue is expected to drop about $250,000 because of the drop in numbers.

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