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December 09, 2016

Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Amherst)

For the third year in row, enrollment at Massachusetts public colleges and universities has declined. The trend follows demographic shifts and carries economic implications.

State schools enrolled nearly 197,000 students in 2013 -- an all-time high. Since then, that number has dropped by 11,000 since then -- a downward trend that is expected to continue, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

WICHE projects that the Northeast will have a smaller student-age population in the coming years.

Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago says that has economic consequences.

"The most-educated component of our labor force is 55 years of age and older and they will be retiring in ten years, so we've got a bit of a tsunami hitting us,” Santiago said.

Santiago says the state can maintain enrollment by more aggressively recruiting students who historically wouldn't have gone to college.

Earlier: Amid State Funding Cuts, Public Research Universities Find Unlikely Advocate

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