AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 44) — Higher education enrollment is lagging as Texas works to supply qualified employees.

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, about 66,000 fewer students were enrolled in Texas institutions of higher education (IHEs) in fall 2022 than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The enrollment drop is driven by a 10.4 percent decline at public two-year colleges since 2019.

The Comptroller’s Office recently examined the proposals aimed at improving enrollment in Texas IHEs. The Texas Commission on Community College Finance recommends for the 88th Legislature to strengthen financial aid programs – as well as modernize the state funding formula so it will be geared toward student outcomes, among other sweeping changes.

At universities, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is pushing for major increases in research dollars to spark innovation and boost entrepreneurship. 

IHEs are making bold moves to fill employment gaps caused by high demand and low supply of qualified workers.

Three situations are playing out at the same time to create a unique workforce challenge – Texas’ population is growing by leaps and bounds, baby boomers are leaving the labor force in droves, and hiring managers are tightening education and job skill requirements for prospective employees.