In our previous blog post, we paused our series on factors affecting enrollment in higher education to look at preliminary enrollment numbers for fall 2022. The data show a slight recovery for public colleges (community colleges) after the loss of almost 100,000 students from fall 2019 to fall 2021, while public universities collectively continue to see a slight uptick in fall enrollment. However, total enrollment in public colleges and universities in Texas continues to lag behind pre-COVID-19 levels (1.41M in fall 2019 vs 1.32M in fall 2022). To better understand these trends, we turn our lens to analyzing age-related data to get a sense of how the demographics in Texas are changing.
If you’ve been in the state of Texas for any length of time, you’ve likely heard that Texas is growing. From 2010 to 2021, the state’s estimated population increased by 16.6% from 25.3 million to 29.3 million, as the 4-million increase is the largest of any state in America. With such steady increases in the general population, the question of how this growth has affected enrollment in Texas’ public colleges and universities is worth exploring further, which we do so in the visualizations below.
There are so many positive aspects to the population growth in Texas. However, as shown above, the age group trends are not necessarily good news for future enrollment of Texans in public higher education institutions. In general, the population of Texas is growing older, as indicated by the increased median age from 2010-2021. Additionally, with the decline in the under 5 population in the last decade, as well as moderate increases in the under 30 population, replicating the healthy growth in enrollment seen from 2010-2019 will be a challenge. Given these general statewide trends, what do the age-related trends look like at a more local/regional level, and how do those trends potentially affect institutions differently? Those will be key questions that will be addressed in our next blog post.