Highlights from Higher Ed: K-12 Enrollment Declines, Studying Abroad, Microcredential Confusion, Test-Optional Policies 

Mar 9, 2023

K-12 Enrollment Numbers Raise Fears of a Steeper Demographic Cliff

Approximately 833,000 fewer students than expected were enrolled in kindergarten, elementary school, and high school in 2021, raising fears that future college enrollment numbers might decline more sharply than previously thought. The term demographic cliff, or enrollment cliff, refers to the fact that the number of students graduating from U.S. high schools is likely to peak in 2025, potentially reducing the number who will enroll in college in the following years. Although declining birth rates are the root cause of the problem, the lower-than-expected K-12 enrollment numbers in 2021 may also indicate that other forces are at work. “Enrollment changes reflect some students shifting to homeschooling or private schools. But they also show particularly deep pandemic effects for several traditionally underserved racial and ethnic groups…Available data suggested public school enrollment fell faster than expected for White non-Hispanic students, Black non-Hispanic students, Asian non-Hispanic students, and Native Hawai‘ian and other Pacific Islander non-Hispanic students.”

Source: Higher Ed Dive

Columbia University Becomes First Ivy League School to Go Test-Optional Indefinitely

Although several of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities have temporarily suspended requirements that applicants submit standardized test scores, Columbia University recently announced that it will maintain that policy indefinitely. The decision makes Columbia the first Ivy League school to take that step. A statement issued by the school said its policy reflects a desire “to afford the greatest possible opportunity and flexibility for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents, interests and goals.” The College of William & Mary also announced that its test-optional policy would continue, with no deadline for returning to a test-mandatory policy. “Purdue University and MIT made news recently with their announcements to reinstate their standardized testing requirements. But the decisions by Columbia and William & Mary are likely to give a new boost to the anti-test trend. Look for more colleges to soon follow suit.”

Source: Forbes

Microcredentials Are Causing Confusion

Several recent studies have revealed that employers, students, and educational institutions are all generally confused about microcredentials, such as certificates, badges, credentials, and other alternative designations for non-traditional educational accomplishments. According to one estimate, there are now more than one million unique microcredentials available in the United States, including those offered by “nonacademic providers” — triple the number recorded in 2018. In many cases, people just aren’t sure what type of educational experience microcredentials represent and have questions about their value in the workplace. For example, although 69% of employers said they are extremely or very familiar with microcredentials, almost as many (65%) said they would like to see evidence of their effectiveness. “When a job applicant lists a nondegree credential on their résumé, close to half of employers do not know what to make of the program’s quality (46%) and the acquired skills and competencies (42%), according to the report.” 

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Students Choose Colleges with Study Abroad Options in Mind 

Most college students (57%) interested in attending school in another country chose their current institution based on its study abroad opportunities, according to a recent survey. The most common reasons for wanting to study abroad are personal growth (43%) and love of travel (36%), whereas only 7% of survey respondents were motivated by a desire to enter the global workforce. Regardless of motivation, the cost of studying abroad is a big concern: 84% said it would prevent them from participating, and 51% said their schools could make it easier to afford by offering more information on financial aid options. “Early exposure to international education played a role in engagement. Almost half of students wanting to study abroad, 45%, became interested prior to graduating from high school, according to the survey. On the flip side, of those who weren’t planning to study abroad, nearly 30% said they were unfamiliar with the idea.” 

Source: Higher Ed Dive

College Enrollment Decline Appears to be Levelling Off

There may finally be light at the end of the enrollment-decline tunnel. New data released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) revealed that fall 2022 undergraduate enrollment declined just 0.6% nationwide. That amounts to approximately 94,000 fewer students than the number enrolled in fall 2021. While the total number of enrolled students is 1.11 million fewer than in fall 2019, the number of enrolled freshmen increased 4.3% in fall 2022 – an encouraging sign for the nation’s colleges and universities. Graduate programs, on the other hand, are struggling to maintain their enrollment numbers. “Enrollment of graduate students, which has been a relatively bright spot throughout much of the pandemic, showed a reversal. Fall graduate enrollment decreased by 39,000 students, or 1.2%, after 3.0% growth in 2020 and a 2.4% increase in 2021. The decline was experienced by all types of four-year schools.” Public four-year colleges experienced the largest enrollment declines (-1.4%) in 2022, while private for-profit four-year schools had the biggest increase (5.0%).

Source: Forbes

Many Higher-Ed Supervisors May Leave Their Jobs

A new survey of higher-ed employees in supervisory roles found that many are likely to leave their current positions because they are “overwhelmed, under-resourced, and struggling to fill positions and maintain morale.” Among the 36% who said they plan to look for a new job within the next 12 months, 60% indicated they would not apply for a new position at the institution that currently employs them. Pay is the top reason why supervisors say they are looking for new jobs. “Additionally, supervisors are more likely than non-supervisors to agree that they have absorbed additional responsibilities of other staff who have left the institution since the onset of COVID-19. Supervisors are also more likely than non-supervisors to report that they experienced an increase in job expectations since the start of the pandemic.” Most supervisors said they are having a hard time filling positions (63%) and maintaining staff morale (54%).

Source: eCampusNews


You may also enjoy

Over the last three decades, Liaison has helped over 40,000 programs on more than 1,200 campuses more effectively manage admissions through its Centralized Application Service (CAS™) technology and complementary application processing and support services. The higher education technology leader supports its partner institutions’ total enrollment goals by pairing CAS with its Enrollment Marketing (EM) platform as well as the recently acquired TargetX (CRM) and advanced analytics software Othot.