Advocate editorial board opinion: Educational institution overcoming bad economy

Times have been difficult since the economic downturn in 2008-09, but many of us have not only weathered the financial downfalls, but worked to turn things around.

One good example is Victoria College, whose enrollments continue to increase. But the college also braced itself for the legislative cuts to higher education and emerged OK after not renewing some positions, cutting wherever it could, increasing tuition and taxes.

All of these actions paid off. The college's end-of-year report showed $20.1 million added to the area's economy.

The college also reported an 8-percent increase in its student population since 2000. So what is causing this steady increase in students?

"While there is no one definitive reason, the economy historically affects our enrollment numbers. When job competition increases and jobs are fewer, we can expect an increase in enrollment because education naturally gives jobseekers a critical advantage. Additionally, enrollment management has become a major part of VC's long-term strategic plan. I also think some of our enrollment growth can be attributed to our planning efforts," said Victoria College President Tom Butler.

Butler said he expected to see continued enrollment growth, as enrollment growth is an important part of the college's strategic planning goals.

We praise the college for its wise planning. Again, this growth has a lot to do with the area's economy, and, as one might guess, it is a positive factor.

"The local community benefits when VC's enrollment increases. Graduates typically enjoy increased job opportunities and higher salaries, while employers can appreciate increased productivity from students trained at VC," Butler said.

We applaud Victoria College for being a stable and growing higher education institution in our community, and we know our community college is a practical way to attain higher education goals.

"It's no secret that community colleges typically cost less than four-year institutions. Average annual tuition and fees for full-time in-county students is $1,920, and $3,048 for out-of-county students. In this economy, when everyone is looking to save as much as possible, it makes good financial sense for students to save money by taking core courses at a community college before transferring to a university to complete a bachelor's degree," Butler said.

No question, Victoria College remains a great option in terms of the escalating cost of higher education. We are proud to have an educational institution that offers quality education at a real bargain of a price.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.