A person walks across the mall on the campus at University of Maine in Orono in July. As community college enrollment continues to soars, University of Maine System schools are experiencing declining enrollment.  Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

As community colleges see record high enrollments in Maine, four-year colleges and universities nationally have seen a steady decline.

From 2017-22, four-year public colleges experienced a steady decline in enrollment, from 7,829,794 students in 2017  to 7,599,121 in 2022, according to data gathered by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Public two-year institutions have also seen a sharp decline in enrollment nationally in the past four years, but did see a modest increase last year. In 2017, there were 5,970,632 students enrolled. That figure steadily declined to 4,439,310 in 2021, but rose to 4,456,014 in 2022, according to National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data.

Among all University of Maine schools, student enrollment dropped 7.3% in the past five years, though the figure does not include those taking early college courses, according to its 2022-23 Academic Year Enrollment Report.

All but two of its schools, the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Maine School of Law, have seen enrollment drop the past five years, according to the report.

The University of Maine at Fort Kent has experienced the biggest five-year enrollment loss at 34%, excluding those taking early college courses. A total of 1,102 students were enrolled in 2017; there were 725 last year.

University of Maine at Farmington has seen a 21.8% decrease in enrollment over the past five years, and the University of Southern Maine has seen a 12.4% decrease in its five-year enrollment estimates, according to the report. Both of those figures exclude students in early college classes.

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