Enrollment in Catholic Higher Education Global and Regional Trends

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Quentin Wodon


In addition to the 62 million children enrolled in K-12 Catholic schools globally, the Catholic Church estimates that 6 million students were enrolled in Catholic institutions of higher education in 2016. How has the number of students in Catholic higher education evolved over the last four decades? In which parts of the world is growth in enrollment taking place, and where do we observe a decline? How are Catholic universities faring in comparison to other Catholic institutions of higher education? Within universities, is the number of students enrolled in ecclesiastical studies increasing? Finally, given trends in enrollment in Catholic secondary schools, does the future of Catholic higher education globally look promising? To answer these questions, this paper provides trends in enrollment in Catholic higher education from 1975 to 2016 and discusses some of the potential implications of the analysis for the future.

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