Maryland community colleges enrolled a record 266,883 students this fall -- a result of students seeking job retraining at two-year institutions because of the recession, higher education officials said.
The enrollment figures were part of a study released by the Maryland Higher Education Commission that shows enrollment at state four-year institutions has increased 2 percent while private universities and colleges reported flat enrollment figures.
The increases in public college enrollment come as the state is ordering multimillion dollar cuts in higher education spending as a result of the same recession that is motivating people to return to college.
The University of Maryland System's 11 institutions have received cuts of $95 million this year. Oct. 2, the 15 state independent institutions were ordered to slash $7.1 million from theie 1992 budgets, and the 17 community colleges shared a $28.7 million cut.
Statewide, community college enrollment jumped 4.2 percent this fall.
The largest enrollment increase was reported at the New Community College of Baltimore, which has cut $1.7 million from its budget since 1991, resulting in elimination of academic programs.
NCCB enrolled 5,198 students this fall, a 10 percentincrease. Entering full-time freshmen increased by 42 percent to 756 students.
"It surprised us," said NCCB interim President James Tschechtelin.
The state last year took over NCCB -- which has Inner Harbor and Liberty Heights Avenue campuses -- from the city after dramatic declines in enrollment and charges by state administrators that the quality of academic programs had declined.
Since then, Tschechtelin and a new board of trustees have reorganized the curriculum and faculty. Yesterday the commission voted to rename the school "Baltimore City Community College" in 1992, when the reorganization is completed.
Other enrollment trends show increases of 9 percent at the state's historically black colleges and universities over last year's figures. It is the sixth consecutive year that the black campuses have experienced enrollment increases.
Overall, the number of students enrolled in Maryland's public and private colleges totaled 267,000 this fall, a state record and a 2.7 percent increase over last fall.
The student population consisted of 151,496 women and 115,387 men.
The number of new, full-time students dropped slightly this year, reflecting demographic changes around the state and a decline in the number of high school graduates.
There were 24,601 new full-time students enrolled at the 17 community colleges, 11 University of Maryland System institutions, St. Mary's College, Morgan State University
and independent institutions, the report said.
On the other hand, there were increases in the number of older students, a trend in recent years.
"Enrollment increases in bad times is a historical fact," said MHEC Chairman J. Henry Butta. "Some people who have trouble in the job market say, 'I'll beef up my education and when times get better, I'll have a new career.' "