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Highlights from Higher Ed: Student Satisfaction, Declining Transfer Enrollment and Rising Business Costs for Colleges

Vast majority of students say pandemic had a negative effect on their grades

A recent survey of more than 14,000 freshman, juniors and seniors at approximately 230 colleges revealed that only 5% of those students believe the pandemic had a “positive impact” on their academic performance. On the other hand, 85% said it had a negative effect on their grades, and just nine percent said it had no effect. “Slightly more sophomores reported negative outcomes than students in other years. The two main factors affecting grades this fall… are academic changes and mental health. Students are navigating a changing educational experience, with remote learning and asynchronous courses in many cases, at the same time they are dealing with stress from the personal effects of the pandemic.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Most college students are “largely upbeat” about the quality of their education

More than 70% of students pursuing associate and bachelor’s degrees “say their colleges and universities have been ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ in providing robust academic courses and programs, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” However, many of the 6,000 survey respondents also reported concerns about the switch to virtual learning and the fact that COVID-19 might make it financially impossible for them to complete their degrees. Eighty-five percent of those studying fully in-person ranked their education quality as excellent or very good, compared with more than 70% of those in hybrid or fully online learning models. “However, students who experienced a change in models were not as positive about their instruction. Between 53% and 60% of associate degree and bachelor’s degree candidates said the quality of education was slightly worse or much worse than prior to the start of the pandemic. First-time students were far more positive about the instruction they are receiving, with 80% giving a thumbs up.”

Source: University Business

Transfer enrollment dropped across the board this fall

The number of students who enrolled in one institution after transferring from another declined 8.1% on a year-over-year basis this fall. Among students who did not transfer, the rate of enrollment decline was 2.4%. “Students who stopped-out of college before the pandemic began were much less likely to come back this fall, with their enrollment dropping 16.7% year-over-year. Only primarily online institutions reported gains with this population.” Community colleges experienced the largest decline in transfer enrollment (19.2%), compared with 1.9% and 1.3% at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions, respectively. “Additionally, enrollment of male transfer students fell twice as much as female transfers, 11.6% compared to 5.7%. The report does not include data for nonbinary students.”

Source: Higher Ed Dive 

Business costs increased at U.S. colleges in 2020, albeit at a lower rate

U.S. colleges spent 1.9% more on business expenses during the 2020 fiscal year than they did during the previous year, when the rate of cost increases was 3%. The five-year average rate of increase was 2.4%. The rate at which college costs change on an annual basis is measured by Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), a statistical report published by investment management firm Commonfund. “Though the report sheds some light on how the Coronavirus crisis is affecting costs for colleges, much of the pandemic’s impact on institutions occurred in the 2021 fiscal year. HEPI’s two most heavily weighted components, faculty salaries and clerical costs, rose 2.7% and 3.2%, respectively, in the 2020 fiscal year.”

Source: Higher Ed Dive

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