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Enrollment up at local Hinds

[8/29/2001]Total enrollment at the Vicksburg branch of Hinds Community College is up and Hinds’ five other campuses are seeing more students as well.

The numbers are probably a result of a shaky economy and the influx of industry, said Hilton Dyar, dean in Vicksburg.

“When you have a strong economy, enrollment tends to go down,” Dyar said. “When it weakens, as it has been, enrollment picks up. When jobs are readily available, most people go on to work.”

The Vicksburg branch showed an increase of 141 students, for a total of 799 enrolled for fall, with 661 enrolled as credit students, up 43 from last year.

Dyar said higher tuition at the state’s major universities may also have led to increased enrollment in the academic fields.

“The tuition hikes at the universities may have been a deciding factor for some parents,” Dyar said. “They may have decided to enroll students in community college first and then transfer to a university.”

Hinds raised tuition by 20 percent this year to $660 per semester for state residents. Most public universities in the state raised their rates by 15 percent. Fall tuition and fees at Mississippi State Universtity, for example, is $1,793.

The Vicksburg branch saw an increase of 30 students in academic fields, and the district had an increase of 709 academic students, up to 6,428 from 5,719 in the fall of 2000.

“It’s a substantial increase,” Dyar said. “It’s a real good year. It’s larger than we normally have.”

Enrollment numbers went up across the district with the largest increases at the Utica and Raymond campuses. Utica increased its numbers by 347, and Raymond saw an increase of 300 students, bringing its total to 6,780.

“It means a lot in regard to finances,” said George Barnes,

vice president for the Utica and Vicksburg branches. “Seventy-four percent of our income is student-generated, so it has a substantial financial impact on the college as a whole.”

Barnes said factors adding students included an extended registration time and classes beginning a week later.

“It’s very significant,” Barnes said of the increases. “With Mississippi trying to get more industry into the state, better-educated employees will be an asset for Mississippi in its future.”

In the district, 12,970 students have been enrolled to date, an increase of 1,176 from last fall, and the numbers may continue to rise as late registration and night school registration continues through next week.