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SRAS NEWS  / RUSSIAN ENROLLMENT TREND REPORT
16.02.2010


 CCPCR’s Fall 2009 Pre-College and College Russian Enrollment Trend Report: It’s a Mixed Bag

Last spring, based upon enrollment data from previous years, the report to our discipline’s newsletters from the Committee on College and Pre-College Russian noted an apparent upward trend in Russian enrollments at both the pre-college and college levels.  Increases in both areas made it possible to cautiously observe that "we can't draw definitive conclusions from the latest data, but the trend is widespread enough this year to give us hope." 

In October a number of SEELANGS contributors began reporting increases at their institutions and, in December, Scott Jashchik, in his Inside Higher Ed article "Russia(n) is Back," cited gains at institutions such as Holy Cross, Stetson, Indiana University, the University of Kentucky, and Pitt. His article also offered speculations from faculty as to the cause, which included everything from students' increased access to Russian culture to the addage "chem khuzhe, tem luchshe" ("the worse, the better"): as Michele Berdy noted in an October 16 SEELANGS e-mail: "…when relations [between Russia and the US] are bad, the number of Russian-language students goes up; when relations are good, they go down."

Though Jaschik comments that "there are no current national data available on Russian enrollment," CCPCR has of course been gathering such information for years, beginning with pre-college enrollments in 1984 and college-level enrollment in 2002.  Admittedly, CCPCR's data does not include every pre-college and college level program since it depends upon voluntary teacher responses.  Still, the CCPCR database can provide meaningful observations by tracking the enrollment records of institutions across the country that have reliably participated in the survey.

What the data gathered by CCPCR this year - available on our website (or just Google CCPCR) - presents is less clear-cut.  At the college level, out of 50 programs that have reliably reported their enrollments to provide a comparison, 22 saw increases in first-year Russian enrollment and 25 saw increases in second-year Russian enrollment. At the same time, 15 saw enrollment go down in first-year courses and 13 in second-year courses. Thirteen first-year programs and 12 second-year programs reported seeing neither a gain or a loss (treating a gain or loss of 2 or less students between years as insignificant).

At the pre-college level, out of 81 programs that have consistently participated in the annual survey, 34 saw an overall increase in K-12 enrollment numbers, 38 experienced a decrease, and 9 programs remained at previous levels.  Increases and drops in enrollment at pre-college schools are sometimes modest, sometimes dramatic, and teachers continue to report programs threatened or soon to be eliminated by funding cutbacks and/or the addition of new language choices to the curriculum. 

The fact that some programs at both the pre-college and college levels are growing is encouraging, but based on our data, it is still too soon to report definitive conclusions. 

 

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