State budget cuts could lead to enrollment cap

North Carolina’s state budget cuts are continuing to threaten not only the quality of education, but the amount of students that can receive that education as well.

The governor’s proposed budget already includes a near $150,000,000 cut. The budget plans have left some North Carolina officials pondering about the idea of capping the number of student enrollment for each public university.

North Carolina universities would only be allowed to increase enrollment by one percent every school year if the enrollment cap is passed. For example, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s enrollment would be reduced from 4,900 students a year to a smaller 2,200 students.

This has many North Carolinian high school students worried about the possibility of receiving a four year college degree. An enrollment cap would also put a halt to Western’s record setting enrollment in 2009, as the university exceeded its record by four percent totaling 9,429 students. Western Carolina University has also nearly doubled its enrollment since 1999 when the school only contained 6,580 students.

Many officials are worried about capping the enrollment number for universities. Hannah Gage, chairman of the UNC system’s Board of Governors, said “Limiting access goes against everything we try to do within our university. It looks like a big step backwards.”

The education at many school’s here in North Carolina have already suffered from pervious budget cuts, but no one knows quite how to handle this sticky situation. Many high school students have already taken another path outside of education simply because of the economic recession; this would only hoard more teenagers away from
the college experience.

What does some faculty and staff at WCU think about capping student enrollment?

“I don’t believe the chances of having an enrollment cap are high. If the state was going to cap the enrollment number here at Western we would have already been notified,” said Chris Parrish, a consular at WCU’s undergraduate admission building. “Many schools across the state have already capped the number of students they can enroll. Western has been specifically pointed by state officials to enroll more students because other states schools in North Carolina cannot take on anymore students.”

Hopefully Western can continue to grow just as it has in the past years. But in a time where the state is cutting the education budget and faculty numbers are decreasing and classroom sizes are going up, it seems hard to believe that Western is going to be able to make up for enrollment capping in other schools.

It will be intriguing to see how the plans will unfold as the state tries to solve the problem of enrollment distribution and budget cuts.