Continuing to examine TSTC Waco’s 46.5% annual headcount drop from 9,810 in FY 2010 to 5,252 in FY 2013, which, as we’ve seen, includes significant losses of technical students AND first-time, full-time students, let’s take a look at how it’s impacting classrooms and labs. To do that, we’ll be looking at a portion of TSTC Waco’s Space Utilization Efficiency reports and comparing them to the colleges in Waco’s peer group.
First, visitors should examine the image below, taken from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s website, which shows the fall 2010 SUE scores for all public colleges in Texas:
For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to skip over the demand and utilization scores, which are based on the number of classes and hours they’re offered and have only an indirect relationship to the number of students. (For example, you can have two classes for 60 students or two classes for 32. The curious can see how these scores are figured at this THECB website.) Instead, I’ll discuss the “average percent fill,” which is just what it sounds like: on average, how full were those classrooms and labs? As we can see from the image above, TSTC Waco’s fall 2010 classrooms and labs were relatively packed, with its classrooms 88% full and its labs hitting the 83% mark. Harlingen’s classrooms were 93% and the Lamar State College-Orange’s labs were 90% full, but those were the only two outfits that managed to get ahead of Waco at the time.
Now, let’s see how Waco did for the fall 2013 term by taking a look at the image below. Waco’s classroom fill rate was 69%, while its labs were at 77%. Its classroom fill rate dropped 19%, while its labs dropped about 6%. At least that drop in classroom average percent fill tracks fairly closely with the percentage drop of for-credit, technical student enrollment going from fall 2010 to fall 2013. According to the THECB’s Higher Education Accountability website, TSTC Waco had 4,741 for-credit, technical students enrolled for fall 2010 and 3,697 for fall 2013, a 22% drop. I’m not sure how a college’s for-credit, technical student enrollment can drop 22% but the lab average percent fill only drops 6%. If there were a ton of academic students, I’d have an answer right now, but Waco, according to the THECB, has relatively few, 235 in fall 2010 and 287 in 2013. I’ll have to think on that one awhile.
One way as the other, TSTC Waco’s dropping average percent fill rates, whether classroom or lab but particularly that significantly lower classroom percentage, reflects its steadily dropping enrollment. Meanwhile, TSTC Harlingen is just percolating right along. For the most part, the other colleges in Waco’s peer group are either improving or remaining relatively steady. What’s happening at Waco?