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New Research Center Reports to Help Institutions Navigate Enrollment Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by NSC Blog | Aug 20, 2020 | Research Reports, Research Services |

Most U.S. colleges and universities are unclear on what the fall 2020 enrollment will look like.

Campuses are weighing options that run the gamut from reduced class sizes to modified lecture series to fully online. It is a tough balance between providing an engaging education and a safe learning environment.

Nationwide Decline in College Enrollment

According to the Spring 2020 Current Term Enrollment Estimates report, there was already a pre-pandemic decline in enrollment of 1.3%, However, this was a slowing of the decline compared to a 1.9% enrollment decline in Spring 2019.

New Challenges to Educational Engagement

In April 2020, 98% of institutions replaced the majority of in-person classes with remote learning, according to the non-profit Education Data. Even though this was the case, the Research Center’s June enrollment supplement report showed that most students stayed enrolled in Spring 2020, with only 7,000 students taking student aid leaves of absence.

Meanwhile, the pivot made by institutions has highlighted difficulties for the transition from the physical to the virtual classroom. Education Data reported that 85% of college and university presidents are highly concerned about accelerated rates of student attrition because of remote learning. From a long-term perspective, 81% are concerned about their ability to maintain student engagement.

Heightened Socioeconomic Barriers

While some students can easily make a transition to online learning, it is not always as easy for others, particularly those that face other social or economic barriers to their success. Without a physical classroom, there is a heightened need for students to have consistent access to the internet, a safe learning space, and the right technology to support their education. A notebook and a determination to learn is simply not enough to succeed in a remote learning environment.

How Will Universities and Colleges Adapt?

While it is still early to determine the long-term effects of the pandemic on enrollments and institutions, it is abundantly clear that the new challenges need to be overcome. It is unlikely that the fall 2020 semester will return to ‘normal.’

So, the question remains — how will colleges adapt and overcome their enrollment challenges?

New Research Center Reports to Help Institutions

To help address this question and others, the Research Center, with financial grants from Ascendium Education Group and the ECMC Foundation, will launch in October 2020 a new research report series that addresses student transfer, mobility, and progress in near-real-time, to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on higher education in the United States.

Also, the Research Center’s report, A COVID-19 Supplement to Spring 2020 Current Term Enrollment Estimates, serves as a first look at the effects of COVID-19 on postsecondary enrollments, as measured by intra-term status changes, compared to spring 2018 and spring 2019, as the baselines.

During the 2020-21 academic year, watch for the Research Center’s regular updates to these reports!

A New Research Center report series will address student transfer, mobility, and progress, with dates subject to change:

  • Early Response Report:  Oct. 2020, Representing Fall 2020
  • End of Term Report:        Dec. 2020, Representing Fall 2020
  • Early Response Report:  March 2021, Representing Spring 2021
  • End of Term Report:        May 2021, Representing Spring 2021
  • Special Report:                  Summer 2021, Representing Academic Year 2020-21
  • Early Response Report:  Oct. 2021, Representing Fall 2021
  • End of Term Report:        Dec 2021, Representing Fall 2021
  • End of Term Report:        May 2022, Representing Spring 2022

85% of college and university presidents are highly concerned about accelerated rates of student attrition because of remote learning. 

 

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