By Nancy Smith, Staff Writer
Despite the consolidation of Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University’s intent to increase enrollment, enrollment has declined since last Spring when news of the merger was released.
In January 2017, the University of Georgia’s Board of Regents voted in favor of the merger. The University System of Georgia issued a press release listing all the benefits that would come from it.
In the press release University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said, “Consolidating Armstrong and Georgia Southern will create one institution with expanded regional presence, tailored degree programs for the coastal region and positioned to significantly enhance the University System’s economic impact for the area.”
The whole point of the consolidation was to expand and enhance the university. The student enrollment data says otherwise.
According to the Georgia Southern University’s student enrollment data, that shows Armstrong’s enrollment, found on the university’s website, enrollment started to decline last Spring and has continued to drop since then.
In spring of 2017 compared to the spring of 2016, there was an almost one percent drop in enrollment with only around 50 less students enrolling.
However, the summer of 2017 enrollment compared to summer 2016 went down dramatically by four percent.
In the fall of 2017 – fall usually being when most students start college, enrollment decreased by two percent with over 100 less students compared to Fall of 2016.
In the previous years, enrollment at Armstrong was at a steady rate.
One of the original opportunities specified in the press release was to “create a more comprehensive university that serves the needs of the region with a range of degree programs…”
However, that doesn’t seem to apply to all degree programs.
A possible partial reason for the decline is the split of the Languages, Literature and Philosophy department with the removal of the English/Communications major.
Georgia Southern has separate English Literature, Foreign Language and Philosophy departments.
It also has a Writing & Linguistics department where most of the classes that where offered for the English/Communications major will now be under.
Potential student, Alyssa Casteleiro, wanted to attend Armstrong specifically for the English/Communications major. She favored the degree because of the variety of classes that were offered.
“It gave students an opportunity to explore all areas of a potential career rather than feel limited to only a few.” said Casteleiro.
Now she worries that she will not have as many job opportunities with a writing degree.
“The communications degree was more flexible and would open more doors. It will be difficult to get the attention of employers when applying for great jobs with only a writing degree” said Casteleiro.
Over the years, the English Literature department in particle has struggled to fill the required number of students per class.
Currently, the upper level English Literature courses have an average of about ten students enrolled.
In the previous years, many English/Communication majors would take literature classes for electives. Now with the new requirements and the separation of the department, the enrollment numbers are up in the air.
Further student enrollment data for this semester of the new Georgia Southern has not been released yet.