Friday, April 15, 2016

Enrollment in free-fall

Rich Miller at Capitol Fax collects a set of links to meaty but depressing stories about Illinois high school seniors making plans to attend college out of state or giving up on college altogether. May 1 is the traditional deadline for accepting college offers, and financial aid offers in Illinois this year come with an asterisk ("contingent on state funding"). Of course the quality of the education on offer, given the budget, is also asterisk worthy.

It's hard to judge the magnitude of the drain from anecdotes in stories, but there lots and lots of anecdotes. Randy Dunn is quoted saying that our rivals sense "blood in the water" and are actively poaching students.  One of the stories notes that FAFSA applications are down by 14% for MAP-eligible students. Many of those students will simply not attend college. Given how many higher-income students will choose to attend college elsewhere, I'd guess that 14% is a conservative estimate for how much public university enrollment will decline state wide.

We already lose more college students to other states than any state in the country other than New Jersey. Only four other states suffer from an "out-migration" in college students. In 2014, 16,623 more students left Illinois to attend college elsewhere than came to Illinois to attend college. That's the equivalent of the entire undergraduate enrollment at SIU.

A local angle after the break.

At the union's DRC meeting last night, a bargaining report indicated that the administration is much less interested than before in raising the student to (TT) faculty ratio in the contract. The admin has been in violation of that ratio for several years, and the FA has a grievance heading to arbitration. But now the administration believes that declining enrollment will get us back under the mandated student-faculty ratio. Student numbers will fall even more quickly than TT numbers.

This is, alas, no silver lining for students, because massive layoffs of  NTT faculty and cuts in GA funding are likely. So students may be more likely to have a tenured professor teaching their class, but she  won't know their names, as she'll be required to teach more students and more classes to cover for her lost colleagues.


  1. I have had to tell SIU seniors in my dept that if they want to go to grad school they need to apply out of state because I do not have the TA funds to support them. I had planned on admitting about ten new grad students, but will instead admit one or two.

    -Mike Sullivan

  2. The NTT faculty union supported the FA during Cheng's attack. It will be interesting to see if the FA will reciprocate this time since NTT and GA's appear to be in the firing line.

    1. The unions are working together. From a recent email:

      "On April 20, the FA (working with the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education and other unions across the state) will be taking people up to Springfield as part of a campaign to fund higher education in Illinois. We will leave at 8:30am from the IEA office in Carterville."

      -Mike Sullivan


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