The Enrollment Numbers Are Actually Worse Than They Appear!
by Silence Dogood

The enrollment declines at SCSU are stunning:

Even with the slight uptick of 9 FYE in FY2016, the decline still amounts to a drop in enrollment of 21.1%. If the data were calculated based on the enrollment in FY2010, the decline is even greater since the enrollment in FY2011 was 15,096 FYE.

Of course, there is a lot of hand wringing by the administration and blaming the recession, the subsequent recovery, part-time students, changing demographics and when that doesn’t work simply saying that everybody’s declining. I guess there is comfort in drowning if everyone is drowning? Unfortunately, by avoiding taking responsibility for drowning, no one looks to see if drowning was avoidable in the first place.

The overall FYE enrollment is a compilation of a lot of different sources: on campus students, traditional PSEO students, concurrent enrollment students, online students and graduate students.

The number of FYE generated by concurrent enrollment students (i.e., high school students who get college credit for their high school classes) from FY11 through FY16 is shown in the figure below:

Growing from 428 FYE in FY2011 to 620 FYE in FY2016 is a growth of 44.9% in a five-year period!

The data for concurrent enrollment is easy to find. Unfortunately, the number of traditional PSEO students (i.e., high school students who take college classes at a college campus) is not as easy. However, after some digging, the FYE data for traditional PSEO students is shown in the figure below:

Growing from 185 FYE in FY2011 to 272 FYE in FY2016 is a growth of an even more amazing 47.0% in a five-year period.

If you were to add the number of FYE generated by Concurrent Enrollment and Traditional On Campus PSEO, the following plot is obtained:

The growth from 613 FYE in FY2011 to 892 in FY2016 represents a growth of 45.5%. As a result, with a decline in overall FYE enrollment, and the growth in the Concurrent and Traditional On Campus PSEO enrollment, high school students are making up an ever-increasing percentage of the SCSU’s enrollment:

In just five years, the percentage of the total FYE enrollment has grown by an amazing 82.9%! When coupled with the declining enrollment, the number of available ‘traditional’ students has declined from 14,363 FYE in FY2011 to 10,968 FYE in FY2016, which corresponds to a decline of 23.6%. If the data were included for FY2010 to FY2016, the decline would increase to approximately 24.5%!

This means that in six years, the number of non high school students that are living on campus, in the surrounding community or commuting to SCSU has declined by nearly 25%! The effect of this decline on the university and the surrounding community is enormous. In 2009, the occupancy rate in the dorms was at 96%. By reducing the number of on campus students by 25% makes for a lot of empty dorms. The problem is only exacerbated by increasing capacity by adding 453 rooms in the Coborn’s Plaza Apartments. Now it should be easy to figure out why they are planning on demolishing W.W. Holes Hall, which might be the first of several dorms to be taken down.

If 25% of a population got sick, we’d call it an epidemic. If 25% of a population lost their job, we’d call it a depression. Why is there no reaction when 25% of a student population disappears over the course of six years? One thing is certain. The loss of these students has significantly affected the financial health of SCSU.

From reserves that were more than ten million to essentially zero in a few short years. A Composite Financial Index that is negative, and another round of budget cuts totaling more that 10 million dollars, indicates that SCSU is not where it wants to be. Unfortunately, even last week at a town hall budget meeting no details were given other than the administration says they are expecting an increase in some revenues so that the cuts would have to total somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 million dollars. Ten weeks from the beginning of the next fiscal year and there is no plan. At least not one that can be revealed to the public. For an administration that prides itself on being open and transparent, this doesn’t seem very transparent.

One needs to look back to a few weeks ago when all of the members of SCSU’s sports programs were summoned to a meeting at which time the closing of six sports was announced. None of the coaches were asked ahead of time how they could reduce expenses. The cuts were simply announced from the top down. I’m assuming that soon after the spring semester ends, the cuts for the rest of the university will be announced. Clearly, the administration’s strategy is to make the announcement AFTER most people have left campus. Some people will be happy, some will be sad. Others will be left scratching their heads wondering and feeling a sense of powerlessness. Plan on the morale on campus taking another hit.

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