Northern Marianas College recorded a large spike in its enrollment for the new semester, which could probably be the biggest so far recorded by the institution in many years.
NMC president Sharon Y. Hart disclosed Friday that the college registered a total of 1,155 full-time equivalent students on Day 4 of the weeklong registration period last Thursday.
Compared to the same period in Fall 2011 with 1,141 FTEs, Thursday's enrollment figure reflects 19-percent increase over the same period last year.
Hart is anticipating the current figure to slightly jump within the week because Fall 2012 registration period ends Friday.
Based on the president's record presented to the board, NMC was able to recruit 158 FTEs on Monday; 354 enrollees recorded on Tuesday; 619 students during Wednesday enrolment; and 1,010 FTEs registered last Thursday. Figures for Friday are not yet available.
Since Wednesday, Hart disclosed that many courses and programs have already recorded their maximum enrollment capacity. NMC has placed additional sections to certain courses to remedy the enrollment situation.
Hart described the enrollment surge as both “good news” and “interestingly challenging” for NMC because of its limited resources for operation.
She said anytime an institution gain more than 20 percent in enrollment, this greatly impacts the overall budget of the college. Hart revealed that the cost of per student education at NMC is at $4,800 per FTE compared to the tuition it can collect per FTE of only about $1,200.
“Every student does cost the institution money.and that's going to be our interesting challenge. We're doing what we can and we will continue to do so accordingly.but in terms of cost, we're not even in the break-even [point],” she admitted to the board.
Hart admitted that management “underestimated” the enrolment for this semester, projecting only a 10-percent increase. Thus, the anticipated 20 percent increase will force NMC to make adjustments on staffing and scheduling of programs and courses. In previous semesters, NMC recorded increase in enrolment of only about 10 to 12 percent, according to the president.
The president said that in order to give the college more planning opportunity in the future, NMC must implement a “new student management system” which will allow the college to determine early the potential enrollees for next semester. This system, she said, is currently in the works.
Regent Frank Rabauliman believes that one of the major reasons for the big surge in enrollment this semester is the recent implementation of a new policy by the CNMI Scholarship Office which requires applicants to enroll first two years at NMC to become eligible for scholarship grants.
This Fall semester, NMC will begin implementation of a larger class size as among its cost-saving measures.