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Highlights from Higher Ed: Suspended Ph.D. Admissions, Enrollment Declines at Home and Success Overseas

COVID-19 prompts more schools to suspend the admission of doctoral students

The pandemic may be reshaping the future of the Ph.D. education in the United States. “An increasing number of humanities and social science departments in the nation’s research universities are suspending the admission of new doctoral students for the fall of 2021. It’s the latest example of the rippling effects of the Coronavirus pandemic as universities struggle to cope with enormous budget shortfalls, an uncertain economic future and questions about how scholarship itself may be changed.” By one count, more than 50 doctoral programs have suspended admissions for next year’s cycle. Brown, Columbia, Yale, New York University, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago and the University of California campuses at Berkeley and Santa Barbara are among the institutions putting their Ph.D. programs on the back burner for now. “Yet to be seen is how a year of skipped admissions will affect those departments that have chosen that route. Will it harm their reputations among peer departments or among prospective applicants in future years? Will it create a logjam of applicants who defer for 2021 with the intent to apply a year or two later?” Only time will tell.

Source: Forbes

Student debt numbers level out

The number of college graduates who borrowed to finance their education declined slightly last year, as did the average amount of debt each student owes. The colleges which provided the data behind those numbers account for 52% of all public and nonprofit four-year schools that grant bachelor’s degrees and represent 79% of graduates overall. The Institute for College Access and Success found that “62% of college seniors who graduated in 2019 had student loan debt, down from 65% in the Class of 2018. About 16% of the debt held by 2019 graduates was comprised of nonfederal loans, which have fewer protections and repayment options.” In 2018, 17% of the debt held by graduates was comprised of nonfederal loans. On average, borrowers owed $28,950, in 2018, down from approximately $29,000 in 2018.

Source: Inside Higher Ed 

More than 50% of college presidents say year-over-year enrollment is down

A survey of nearly 300 college presidents revealed that enrollment has declined in the past year at more than half of those institutions. On average, community colleges have experienced the largest drop. On the other hand, 31% of private four-year college presidents said they enrolled more students this fall, as did 15% of public four-year and 10% of public two-year leaders. Roughly 70% of four-year college execs reported decreased international student enrollment. “The share of college presidents reporting enrollment decreases this fall (55%) matches projections across all institution types… However, a slightly larger percentage of private four-year and public two-year presidents expected their fall enrollment to stay the same than reported it did in the September survey. More than a third (37%) of respondents across all institutions said enrollment fell 5% or less this fall, and the same share said it fell between 6% and 10%. Just 1% said it fell by 31% or more.”

Source: Education Dive

U.K. schools welcome a record number of international undergraduate students

Colleges and universities in the United Kingdom are “on course to recruit record numbers of international students during the global pandemic, defying predictions of financial disaster,” according to a report on the latest enrollment numbers. “The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said UK universities enjoyed a 9% increase in the number of undergraduate students from outside the UK and the EU starting their studies this autumn, rising to a new record total of 44,300.” That stands in stark contrast to the United States, which is experiencing a significant decline in the number of international students enrolling in its colleges and universities. “The increase marks a remarkable turnaround from earlier this year, when vice-chancellors feared there would be a collapse in international student numbers and warned that a sector-wide financial crisis was likely to follow. Universities redoubled their efforts to recruit students from overseas, and may have been helped by negative sentiment towards the US, where the virus remains unchecked in parts of the country, and while potential rivals in New Zealand and Australia remain closed to international students.”

Source: University Business