Students at Slippery Rock University and all across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) should expect drastic changes in the state system as student enrollment has plummeted throughout the past six years.
In 2010, total student enrollment throughout the PASSHE system reached 120,000 students, but a 12 percent decrease has affected the system with enrollment down by 14,462 students. To compromise for its loss in enrollment, the state system is exploring the idea of closing certain universities or merging them.
Despite the overall enrollment loss throughout the state, SRU is actually one of two schools in the PASSHE system that has increased in enrollment individually. However, Slippery Rock’s total percent increase since 2010 really grows by 0.3 percent, but in the last year alone it increased by 2.9 percent with over 200 more students enrolled at the beginning of the 2016 school year compared to 2015’s fall semester.
In the event that PASSHE does decide to close or merge state system schools, SRU will definitely be affected. Obviously, it would boost SRU’s enrollment, but it’s too early to tell if this would be a positive or negative for the university. With thousands of potential students coming to SRU within the next few years, SRU will come at the risk of being over-populated. Simply, SRU might have to find new ways of adjusting to a higher population.
Issues that SRU may have to face could include, over-populated residence halls, crowded classrooms and crowded dining halls. It might force Slippery Rock to build new residence halls or repurpose buildings to create more classrooms.
Of course, this is all hypothetical, as Chancellor Frank Brogan hasn’t officially announced any changes, and is instead conducting a survey to gather more information about the issue. Also, Brogan indicated that he and his staff, after further review, could be making some hard decisions about the status of state system universities as early as this year.
No matter the outcome, big changes should be expected at Slippery Rock in the coming years. Students and faculty alike should prepare for a new atmosphere on campus and start preparing now for a drastic boost in campus enrollment. At this time, the university itself should also be exploring options to accommodate an overcrowded campus. It’s only a matter of time until this issue becomes real.