Official preliminary enrollment figures from the Arkansas Division of Higher Education indicate East Arkansas Community College's enrollment increased 13.6% in fall 2021 over 2020. Only 11 of the state's 32 public colleges and universities saw an increase.
EACC's increase was the fourth highest of all 32 institutions. In fall 2020, ADHE figures list EACC's enrollment as 934, which increased to 1,061. Only 9 of the 22 two-year colleges in the state increased in fall enrollment. Total enrollment at the state's two-year colleges fell by 1.3%.
"It looks like higher education is beginning to recover from COVID-19. While EACC did not reach the high in enrollment that we experienced in the 2019-2020 academic year, we are now more in line with our typical fall enrollment. In 2017, our enrollment was actually slightly lower than this fall," said Dr. Cathie Cline, President of EACC.
"While EACC's COVID-relief grants of $1,000-$1,200 per student helped, I also believe students have recognized that EACC has used the last 18 months to improve our already highly regarded instruction and student supports. What we think of as the COVID year has been put to good use."
Only 3 colleges -- Arkansas State University-Three Rivers (27%), Phillips County Community College (13.9%), and South Arkansas University-Technical College (21.1%) -- experienced larger increases than EACC.
Increases were seen at two universities: the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (5.5%) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (3.0%).
Other regional enrollment figures include a decrease in enrollment at Arkansas State University-Mid South (-9.10%), Arkansas State University-Jonesboro (-0.5%), and an increase of 7.3% at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville.
The largest decrease at a two-year college was at Southeast Arkansas College in Pine Bluff (-21.90%). The largest decrease at a university was at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (-10.9%).
"In 2019, the Higher Learning Commission cited EACC's 'unparalleled commitment to student success' in our evaluation. Our strong showing this fall supports that conclusion," Cline added.
The enrollment figures do not include UAMS, which focuses only on allied health education and is funded separately from the other public institutions of higher education.