How have college enrollments fared in the middle of a pandemic? A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, released on Thursday, provides an early look, with data showing a 2.5-percent dip in undergraduate attendance this fall.

The preliminary data, which reflect enrollments as of September 10, reveal that undergraduate enrollments at all types of institutions have declined, compared with the same time last fall. Community colleges fared the worst, with a decline of 7.5 percent. The drop in undergraduate enrollment also played out across all demographic groups — and among international students in particular — and in some states more than others.

The center’s enrollment results are based on 3.6 million students at 629 colleges, nearly 22 percent of the institutions that report to the organization. The data will be updated monthly throughout the fall as more colleges report their enrollments.

“The picture will become clearer as more data comes in, but at this point the large equity for students who rely on community colleges for access to higher education is a matter of critical concern,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the center, in a news release.

In recent weeks, individual institutions — many of them large public universities — have reported unexpected enrollment growth in a year when some indications had been that significant numbers of students would alter their choice of college or opt out of going altogether. For example, Louisiana State University said on Tuesday that its freshman class was 9 percent larger than last year’s and that “despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” enrollment overall was at an all-time high of 34,290 students.

The research center reported a bright spot in this fall’s enrollment patterns as well. Enrollment for graduate students overall was up 3.9 percent, despite a decline in international students.

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