Enrollment falls

Student enrollment at Santa Ana College dropped 28 percent this spring in part because of California’s economic crisis, district officials said.

This semester 19,719 students enrolled in credited classes compared to 25,329 last spring.

A big chunk of the enrollment decline has to do with fewer classes offered in the Sheriff’s Academy and Fire Technology programs, Vice President of Academic Affairs Norman Fujimoto said.

Two possible explanations for the drop off in the fire technology department are the early start in the semester that gave students less time to register and the city also curtailed tuition reimbursement, said Ken Soltis, associate dean for fire technology and public safety.

“Until the economy changes, the tide is not going to change,” Fujimoto said.

SAC offered 100 fewer class sections this year because of budget cuts imposed by the state. With the new budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, SAC may need to cut even more classes next year, Fujimoto said.

Raising tuition prices would not solve all the problems, Fujimoto said.  The college does not get the extra money, which instead is funneled to the state.

Economically however, Fujimoto considers SAC to be a stable district.  The district numbers are based on full time equivalencies or FTE.  FTE is the total amount of units taken by students divided by 12.

For example, one student with five units and another student with seven units count as one FTE.

“Since we had a very large summer enrollment, that helps us meet our target for the year,” Fujimoto said.

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To curb the downward trend this semester, 10 to 15 eight-week classes have been added.

These are high demand general education classes that are not undergoing a drop in enrollment, such as English and Math courses.

Part-time art concept teacher Mark Leysen said he has not noticed the drop in enrollment. The two classes he teaches have about 70 students.

“We won’t know if we meet the target until the end of the semester,” Fujimoto said. “As of right now we are only 34 FTE’s below our projected target.”

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