George Washington Enrollment Drops 17% in Pandemic Setback

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George Washington University’s enrollment is down about 17% from last year, an early indication of the impact of Covid-19 on U.S. higher education.

President Thomas LeBlanc told a faculty senate meeting that preliminary undergraduate enrollment is about 1,000 students below its target of 10,126, a spokeswoman said Monday. Last year, the school in Washington, D.C., drew 12,031 undergrads in the fall, including 1,416 from abroad, and 11,008 were full-time students.

Provost Brian Blake said in an interview that he expects the enrollment drop to be lessened when final numbers are tabulated next month.

The university was already planning to decrease the size of its undergraduate population over several years, but the pandemic accelerated the drop, according to the spokeswoman.

Colleges have feared that fewer students would show up this term, with masks, virus testing and limited interactions for in-person attendees. Many schools are going all or mostly virtual, while others have sent students home after outbreaks.

Some 67% of schools expected enrollment to decrease, and most forecast lower tuition revenue, according to a poll last month by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Those with big international populations forecast the steepest declines.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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