COLUMBUS — Enrollment has declined at Ohio State University’s five regional branch campuses, officials said.
Enrollment at the branch campuses peaked in 2009, but since then has dropped more than 20 percent. The 6,500 students who attended classes at the branches last year was the lowest in a decade.
The decline has come as enrollment at Ohio State’s main campus in Columbus has boomed.
The falloff is happening because of declining birthrates, Bill MacDonald, the executive dean of the regional campuses, told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1jM0wru .
Because there are fewer students overall, the number of high school graduates has slipped about 4 percent over the past five years. The regional campuses have been hit particularly hard because they draw students mostly from within the state.
“It’s demographics, and it’s something really that all of Ohio has to prepare for,” MacDonald said.
Years of fast growth at branch campuses started to decline statewide in 2011, with enrollment falling faster than at main campuses. But no regional campuses reported decreases as steep as those at Ohio State’s branches.
The OSU Marion campus lost 31 percent of its students. Lima lost 28 percent, and Mansfield 26 percent. The Newark campus fared the best, with an 8 percent decrease. Enrollment at the Columbus campus increased by 4 percent in that span.
Growth on the Columbus campus has been bolstered by students from outside the state, a pool that regional campuses rarely dip into. At the same time, more students are leaving Ohio State branches to attend the main campus or other universities.