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Enrollment Changes

by Tod Massa 10. January 2014 22:50

Monday afternoon I will be updating the Council’s TJ21 Committee on Fall 2013 enrollment.  The text of that update follows. It differs from the item in the agenda book only through the inclusion of a paragraph regarding the community college enrollments as they locked their fall headcount files yesterday (Thursday).

 Across the nation we have heard that college enrollments are down. In Virginia, the enrollment files have been submitted and locked by the four-year institutions, both public and private, and we can now review the situation. VCCS enrollments are typically not made final until mid-January, thus the two-year colleges are not part of this analysis. Using the E41: Change in Enrollment report we can observe the following highlights:

 Overall enrollment at the public four-year institutions is flat from fall 2012 with an increase of 27 students from 214,640 to 214,667. Looking a little deeper we see that undergraduate enrollment is up by 1,517 students to 168,239. Graduate enrollment is down from 42,825 students to 41,436 students, a difference of 1,389.  Only three institutions had increases in graduate enrollment – William & Mary, Radford, and Virginia State. Enrollment in first professional programs is down by 101 students to 4,992.

 Overall enrollment at the private, nonprofit institutions is up from 129,950 students to 132,175, a difference of 2,225 students or 1.7%. Much of the increase is due to the continued growth at Liberty University. Despite an increase of 1,331 undergraduate students at Liberty, overall undergraduate enrollment increased by only 553 students across private, nonprofit institutions. Graduate enrollment increased from 36,358 to 37,924 students and first professional enrollment declined from 7,537 to 7,643 students.

 How much of these gains and losses attributable to in-state and out-of-state students?

 At the public institutions, both groups of students increased at the undergraduate level. In-state undergraduate enrollment increased by 1,190 students, or just 0.9%, to 137,328. Out-of-state enrollment increased by 327 students, just over 1%, to 30,911.

 Undergraduate enrollment of in-state students at the private institutions increased by 12 students to 31,555 students while out-of-state undergraduate enrollment increased by 541 (1.0%) to 53,806 students. Again, this growth is attributed to an increase of 744 students at Liberty.


Which institutions were most significantly impacted for in-state undergraduates?

 The first two charts below detail the institutional differences in the enrollment growth from fall 2012.  In the first chart, we compare enrollment changes at the public institutions. Nine institutions - Christopher Newport, William & Mary, George Mason, James Madison, Longwood, Old Dominion, Radford, University of Virginia, and Virginia Military Institute - experienced enrollment growth in a range from 18 to 1,065 students. The six remaining institutions dropped between 46 and 346 students each. The largest decrease was at Virginia Commonwealth University. 


 Of the 29 private, nonprofit institutions with undergraduate enrollments, 16 reported enrollment increases of 1 to 587 students. As noted previously, the most significant growth was at Liberty University. The remaining 13 institutions reported decreases between 1 and 311 with the largest decrease at Shenandoah University.


What sub-groups of students most influenced the enrollment changes?

 Of the 1,207 increase in-state undergraduates at public four-year institutions, 446 were new transfer students compared to a decrease of 127 first-time-in-college (FTIC) students. The remainder of the enrollment increase is attributable to continuing students.

At the private institutions, there were 167 new in-state transfers with an increase of 39 FTIC students. Combining these figures with a loss of 194 continuing in-state undergraduates results in the net gain of 12 students mentioned above.

Enrollment of new graduate students, both in-state and out-of-state, at the public institutions is down from 2012, for a combined decrease of 859 students. At the private institutions there was also a decrease in new graduate students (a total of 485), but an increase of 2,051 continuing graduate students resulted in the net increase of 1,566 graduate student enrollment.


How do current enrollments compare to institutional projections approved by Council at the September meeting?

Total enrollment at the public four-year institutions is 778 students below projections. Six institutions had enrollment below projections. They are Norfolk State (11), Old Dominion (98), Mary Washington (189), University of Virginia (495), and Virginia Commonwealth (591). The remaining institutions exceeded their projections by 10 to 102 students. If we look only at projections of in-state undergraduates, only Norfolk State (34), Old Dominion (137), University Virginia College at Wise (37), and Virginia Commonwealth (423) were below their enrollment projections.

 Only William & Mary (47), Norfolk State (14), Radford (37), and Virginia State (37) met or exceeded their projections for graduate students. These institutions, Norfolk State (15), Radford (43), and Virginia State (29), also met or exceeded their projections for in-state graduate students.

 Overall, the total enrollment at the private institutions exceeded projections by 6,832 students. While much of this is due to Liberty (4,863), eight other institutions also met or exceeded their projections: Bluefield (10), Bridgewater (75), Christendom (12), Eastern Mennonite (59), Ferrum (31), Regent (321), Shenandoah (282), Virginia Union (352). The increased enrollment at many of these same colleges was from in-state undergraduates, despite the fact actual enrollment of in-state undergraduates was below projections by 402 students. Liberty led the way with 320 students above projections, with Bridgewater (43), Christendom (21), Eastern Mennonite 912), Ferrum (39), Marymount (48), Randolph-Macon (48), Regent (11), Shenandoah (152), and Virginia Union (25) enrolling more students than projected.

 In general, the ten year trend appears healthy at both public institutions, and private institutions, in the aggregate.


There is a great deal of institutional variation that can be explored on the SCHEV Research site. In general, most of the institution-level variation from the enrollment projections is reasonable and to be expected. Staff remains optimistic that the Commonwealth will meet the goal 100,000 cumulative additional degrees awarded to in-state undergraduates by 2025.


Addendum: Enrollment at Public Two-year Colleges

Total headcount is down from last year across the board with only Patrick Henry, Thomas Nelson, and Virginia Western showing increases. These same three colleges were the only to show increases in in-state enrollment. Enrollment of out-of-state students was more of mixed bag, but it is a tiny population of the total.

The good news is that even though the public two-years colleges were down 3,891 students from last year, they were still 1,878 over their projected enrollment for in-state students this fall. 


The enrollment declines at the community college are attributed to a decrease in continuing student enrollment. First-time in College (FTIC) enrollments are 1,761 over last year, and enrollment of high school dual-enrolled students is up 1,786 over last year. 

E41: Change in Enrollment report 

E42: Change in Fall Headcount, Detail

In case you haven’t noticed, we released the new front page to last week. At the same time we released a new institutional profile page. There is nothing particularly new on the profile, other than a map showing undergraduate enrollment by locality. Everything else comes right off the website. The institution profile will feature heavily in my presentation at the Postsecondary Institution Rating System Technical Symposium in two weeks. I think the work we do is a good model for USED to consider and that basic transparency will probably accomplish more than a complex system of ratings based on institution types and differing collections of measures.




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