Enrollment in Massachusetts’s public colleges and universities up 23 percent in past decade

Enrollment in public colleges and universities reached a 10-year high this year, growing nearly 23 percent since 2001, figures released today by the state Department of Higher Education show.

The increase was largely driven by higher enrollment at community colleges, which grew nearly 28 percent, the education department said.

But other schools saw growth as well. During the past year, Framingham State University’s enrollment increased 15 percent, and Worcester State University’s enrollment grew by 9 percent, the statement said.

From fall 2006 to fall 2010, undergraduate enrollment in public schools grew 18 percent — more than double the rate at private colleges and universities, which saw growth of 7 percent.

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“Families are seeking value, which they define as high-quality academic programs and world-class faculty to prepare students for careers and further study,’’ Framingham State University President Timothy Flanagan said in a statement. “In difficult times such as these, the value proposition offered by state universities matters even more, as parents and students are increasingly sensitive to loan burdens and the overall costs associated with earning a degree.’’

The growth in enrollment happened despite a declining number of high school graduates, reflecting demographic changes in the state, the education department said.

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