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Some Tennessee community colleges have laid off employees and cut positions in response to steep enrollment declines, Axios Nashville reported.

Flora W. Tydings, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents system, said in a meeting last week that enrollment at the state’s 13 community colleges is now the lowest it’s been since 2001. Enrollment at the community colleges was 74,543 students in fall 2021, down from 88,946 in fall 2019, a loss of more than 14,000 students since the pandemic started.

Volunteer State Community College fired 20 staff members and removed 13 open positions. Jackson State Community College also plans to eliminate more than 20 positions by June. The college is merging its nursing and health science departments, and the business department will take over the computer information technology program, according to WBBJ 7. Walters State and Cleveland State already reduced their staffs in 2021, Tennessee Board of Regents spokesperson Rick Locker told Axios.

“We’ve had dips before,” Tydings said at the meeting. “We manage it to the best of our ability. But at some point, you do have to step in and make some drastic decisions, and that’s kind of the point where we are at this moment in time.”

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