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Spring 2021 Transfer Enrollment Declines 3.8 Times Larger Than Last Spring

by NSC Blog | Apr 12, 2021 | Research Reports, Research Services, Signature Reports |

COVID-19 Accelerated Transfer Decline for White and Black Students, Male Students, and Traditional College-Age Students

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released today new research showing transfer enrollment is down 7.9% this spring, 3.8 times larger than last spring, which declined 2.1%. Transfer enrollment declines are especially steep in the community college sector with a 15.2% drop, but transfer enrollments at public four-year colleges remain stable from last spring.

“Transfer enrollment declines this spring are largely attributable to lower enrollment levels last fall and a higher fall-to-spring attrition rate during COVID-19,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “As the pandemic continues to shift the postsecondary landscape, colleges and universities must address the needs of the students who are most impacted.”

Other highlights from the COVID-19 Transfer, Mobility, and Progress: First Look Spring 2021 Report include:

  • Students are less mobile along all transfer pathways, except for upward transfer where students grew 3% this spring over pre-pandemic levels. Both reverse and lateral transfer suffered steep enrollment declines of 21% and 9.2%, respectively.
  • Transfer enrollment decline is more evident among White and Black students than their Hispanic and Asian peers. Hispanic transfer enrollment currently shows the strongest growth in the public four-year sector.
  • With gender disparities growing across all age groups, transfer declines are larger for men, especially in upward transfer.
  • Transfer declined for continuing students at twice the rate of returning students this spring (-10.2% and -4.9%, respectively, from a year ago). Continuing students transferring to community colleges decreased 20.8%, ten times the pre-pandemic rate of decline.

Background

The COVID-19 Transfer, Mobility, and Progress: First Look Spring 2021 Report, the third report in the series, offers a first look into the spring 2021 student transfer patterns as of February 25. This report focuses on year-over-year changes within a fixed panel of institutions representing 74% of the Clearinghouse universe and 8.8 million undergraduate students, including 532,000 transfer students. These preliminary results will be updated as more data are received later in the spring.

The COVID-19 Transfer, Mobility, and Progress Report series, with support from Ascendium Education Group and ECMC Foundation, identifies changes in student transfer pathways that are attributable to the pandemic by using historical data as the pre-pandemic baseline and the Clearinghouse’s current enrollment data.

The next Transfer Report is scheduled for early June. Attend the Research Center’s webinar on April 21 at 1 pm ET to further understand the impacts of the pandemic on college enrollment. Also, the next Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information is scheduled to be released on Thursday, April 29.

“As the pandemic continues to shift the postsecondary landscape, colleges and universities must address the needs of the students who are most impacted.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

 

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