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Enrollment Projections - Preliminary Summary, Public Institutions

by Administrator 21. July 2017 17:26

 

This is an excerpt of Tod's recent presentation to Council.

Enrollment Projections - Preliminary Summary, Public Institutions

In the fall of 2016, public institutions met 97% of their total projected enrollment from the 2015 projections. As we consider the 2017 projections, staff comparing the projections to not only the most recent actual enrollments and the 2015 projections, but also to the 2013 projections. Common to all three sets of projections are the years 2016-17 through 2019-20.  Upon review, we find that the projections in produced in 2017 are significantly lower than those 2015 and lower still than the 2013 projections. The bulk of the difference is explained by lower projections from the Virginia Community College System, consistent with the declines in actual enrollment they have seen as the economy has recovered from the recession. If it were not for the degree estimates discussed below, staff would have concerns about the Commonwealth’s ability to achieve status as the “best educated state in the station.”

 

Table 1: Comparison of Enrollment Projections

Public Institutions, Fall Headcount

 

2013

2015

2017

2016

          408,944

          398,493

          391,465

2017

          411,978

          400,139

          387,004

2018

          415,628

          402,432

          384,887

2019

          419,475

          405,376

          384,292

2020

          423,878

          408,739

          384,740

  

 

Degree Estimates

Despite significant declines in community college enrollment, degree and certificate production at the public institutions continues to hold steady and even increase modestly.  As mentioned above, the overall performance of the public institutions all levels of degrees and certificates compared to their estimates was 105% of actuals over estimates.  If we look at the two prior sets of estimates, we can easily note how low the 2015 estimates dropped compared to the 2013 estimates. We also note that 2017 estimates map closely to the 2013 estimates. It seems clear that the decrease in 2015 estimates was a reflection of a great deal of uncertainty in student behavior and concerns about students staying in college. Clearly though, students did stay in college and complete.

 

Table 2: Comparison of Degree Estimates

Public Institutions, Total Awards

 

2013

2015

2017

2016

                87,973

           82,974

           88,745

2017

                88,669

           83,520

           90,358

2018

                89,752

           84,387

           91,205

2019

                90,815

           85,161

           92,582

2020

                91,778

           85,704

           93,850

 

As a reminder, the enrollment projections and degree estimates play significant roles in the Institutional Performance Standards. Public institutions must achieve 95% of their enrollment or degree estimates in order to be deemed as passing the specific measures. Because of this, institutions are properly advised to conservative in their projections and estimates, which they generally are. Thus, if these new estimates are typically conservative we expect to see even greater degree production than the 2013 estimates, with significantly fewer student enrollments projected. This suggests institutional confidence in ongoing efforts to increase student retention and completion. What we seein our analysis is that the 2017 estimates of associates’ and bachelors’ degrees exceed the minimum estimates for achieving the Commonwealth’s goal by 2030. We see a similar pattern to the projections and a track suggesting we will achieve and exceed the TJ21 goal of 100,000 cumulative additional associate and bachelor degrees awarded to in-state students at public institutions.

  

Projections of High School Graduates as First-Time in College Enrollments

The public two-year colleges have taken a decidedly conservative approach to projecting the enrollments of first-time in college students from Virginia as can be seen in Table 3. However, given their recent enrollment downturn, this is not particularly surprising. The projections of the four-year colleges include students that are not recent high school graduates, a number which typically ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 students in actual enrollment counts. What is surprising is that there seems to be little evidence in the numbers of an effort to recruit from the recent increase in graduates with advanced diplomas (as staff reported at the PCAB meeting).

 

Table 3: First-time in College, Direct from High School

Fall

Public 4

Public 2

Total

2012

22,827

18,560

41,387

2013

22,947

19,768

42,715

2014

23,914

19,123

43,037

2015

24,768

18,790

43,558

2016

24,572

18,934

43,506

2017-Proj*

26,174

16,863

43,038

2018-Proj*

26,320

16,863

43,183

2019-Proj*

26,555

16,929

43,484

2020-Proj*

26,695

17,109

43,804

*Projections include students that are not recent high school graduates

 

Table 4 provides further detail on the relationship between the numbers of recent high school graduates. The annual variance of a percentage point in the participation rate of the combined totals of advanced and standard diploma graduates is fairly typical. The difference two percentage points represents a loss of nearly 1,800 new college students, if participation prior year’s participation rate had held true in fall, 2016. AS data sources become available later this year, staff will be analyzing those data to determine what this drop in participation represents.

  

Table 4: High School Graduates by Diploma Type and Enrollment in Public Colleges & Universities the Following Fall

School Year

High School Graduates

Enrollment in Public C&Us

Advanced

Diplomas

Standard

Diplomas

Total

Enrollment

Percentage of Graduates

2011-12

47,329

35,946

83,275

41,387

50%

2012-13

47,872

35,357

83,229

42,715

51%

2013-14

47,943

34,587

82,530

43,037

52%

2014-15

47,956

33,918

81,874

43,558

53%

2015-16

49,324

35,783

85,107

43,506

51%

 

 

Conclusions

 

 

The enrollment projections and degree estimates from the public institutions represent what has become the traditional conservative approach used by the public four-year institutions. They also represent a return to the more positive, aggressive approach to the degree estimates that were present in the 2013 projections that track well recent actual numbers of awards. The projections and estimates from the two-year sector are much more conservative in terms of enrollment, representing both uncertainty and the declining enrollment of recent years. The community colleges are particularly challenged in projecting enrollment as they simply accept all students who show up for enrollment, which is often highly correlated with local and regional employment opportunities more so than any other factor. Degree estimates from the two-year institutions represent increases and ongoing efforts towards student engagement and completion. In consideration of the above factors, staff analysis is that we remain on track to achieve the goals of both TJ21 and the Virginia Plan.

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