Declining enrollment may mean the end of a once-popular PNW program

Westville’s early childhood development program may be suspended, the latest victim of a demographic change that has significantly reduced PNW enrollment: A decline in the number of high school students.

The declining enrollment, combined with the fact that early childhood job salaries have remained stagnant for 30 years, may mean the end of a once-popular program.

“There was not a very big demand for the early childhood program,” said David Detmer, professor of philosophy and a member of the faculty senate, which has a voice in what programs survive or are suspended.

The early childhood development program teaches skills and techniques to work with children through the third grade, as well as with their families. The program was designed to prepare students to work at a childcare center, preschool or elementary school.

Other programs, including some in biology and physics, may also face suspension as PNW struggles with the reality of declining college enrollment.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a 15% decrease in higher education enrollment. PNW enrollment declined by 4.5% since fall 2018. But between 2008 and 2018, the average tuition at Indiana state universities rose by 16.1% while the average state spending per student did not change, according to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank focused on reducing poverty and inequality.