Bermuda College enrolment falls to decade-long low
The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for a decline in enrolment numbers at the Bermuda College – and also for a sharp drop in satisfaction levels among students.
According to the college’s recently released 2021/22 annual report, there were 576 students enrolled at the college last year – 111 fewer than in 2020, representing a drop of 16 per cent.
Describing the decrease as “substantial”, Cordell Riley of the college’s institutional research office, said that it was the first time in more than a decade that numbers had dipped below 600. Enrolment has been in gradual decline since 2013 when almost 1,200 students attended the college.
Mr Riley wrote: “In 2021, the college saw its enrolment numbers fall below 600 for the first time in almost a decade.
“Whilst the college enjoyed a marginal increase in 2020, in 2021, the college experienced what other institutions around the world underwent during the pandemic – double digit declines in enrolment.”
Mr Riley said that the college had started a review of enrolment strategies to combat the decline.
But he added: “It must be viewed in the context of the pandemic and the overall declining population, particularly those in the traditional student population.”
Mr Riley said that students under the age of 24 now made up the bulk of the student body at 79 per cent.
He said: “Generally, this may be viewed as a positive, but in light of the falling youth population, part of the enrolment strategy going forward is to increase the non-traditional or mature student population at the college.”
Despite a decline in enrolments and significant cuts in Government funding, the college managed to make a profit last year of almost $500,000.
Addressing satisfaction levels among students, Mr Riley claimed that remote learning brought about by the pandemic may have had a negative effect on student experiences.
He wrote: “For the first time in nearly a decade, graduates’ satisfaction level with the college has fallen below 70 per cent.
“This is the first cohort of graduates who would have had a substantial portion of their coursework taught remotely, an unintended consequence of the pandemic.
“When asked about their remote learning experience, nearly one quarter – 23 per cent – stated that they ‘did not feel motivated enough’ during remote learning.
“The pandemic-enforced, remote learning experience may explain the lower satisfaction rating.”
A survey of parents of senior high school students also returned low marks.
The college survey showed that more than 90 per cent of parents wanted their children to attend a college with a reputation for delivering high quality education, but less than half – 45 per cent – believed that the college offered that.
When asked why they would not send their child to the college, 57 per cent of parents said that it did not offer the “full college experience”.
Despite the statistics, Duranda Greene, the college president, said that a spirit of unity, collaborative teamwork and student focus “had seen us through another challenging year”.
In her remarks, Dr Greene wrote: “It has indeed been a rewarding year with tangible benefits being realised for the college, its students, and its graduates
“My thanks to the dedicated faculty and staff who supported these students and served as their cheerleaders throughout the challenges of their various journeys.”