Higher Education Enrollment and Recessions (2)
The economy is a significant driver of higher education enrollment. In particular, an economic downturn trend exacerbates the rate at which students enroll in colleges and universities in the United States. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of students who enrolled for higher education increased from 2.4 million to 2.7 million due to the Great Recession.
- Economists suggest that when the economy is at its peak and jobs are in abundance, people tend to have less interest in attending college. By the same token, when there is a downturn in the economy, the rates of enrollment in college increases as people seek the opportunity to gain employment and learn new skills.
- According to Alicia Sasser Modestino, an associate profession at the Northeastern University, individuals are likely to enroll in college when the economy is performing poorly. When labor markets slack, the rate of unemployment increases, and suddenly employers begin to demand college degrees or several years of experience.
- Prior to the 2007 Great Recession, almost all types of higher learning institutions were experiencing a downward trend in enrollments. However, during the recession, several institutions, particularly the public ones, witnessed a spike in student enrollment. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) reported that public baccalaureate institutions in the US saw a 7% median increase in student enrollment in 2010 and a 5% increase in 2011.
- The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) also found that during the Great Recession, community college enrollment in the US increased by more than 8 million students in the fall of 2010- 10 months after the country witnessed a 10% increase in the unemployment rate.
- The AACC data also revealed a surge in enrollment of students who attended full-time courses from 40.9% in 2007 to 42.5% in 2010.
- Between 2006 and 2007, Inside Higher Education (IHE) and the Education Department revealed that over 6.2 million students enrolled in various community colleges across the US. The growth in enrollment, according to Grace Truman, the spokesperson for Palm Beach Community College, was influenced by a downturn in the American economy.
- When the 2007 recession began, more students enrolled in college in the US. A 2008 National Student Clearinghouse Research Center study published by Inside Higher Ed reported that the number of incoming students grew to 2.7 million students in 2008 from the previous year's 2.4 million, an increase of 12%, which was driven by economic downturns.
- Since the 1960s, the enrollment of students in colleges has always increased in every recession. The phenomenon is always associated with the drop in the opportunity cost of going to college i.e. it is challenging to keep a job or find one during a recession. Thus, some people who would instead work consider enrolling.
- A professor of economics at Stanford University, Caroline Hoxby, reported that the American Great Recession promoted enrollment of students in universities and colleges. Most students who would take time off before considering graduate school decides to enroll immediately while those who would not enroll decide to do so.
Potential Impacts of Economic Recession/International Disasters on Higher Education Enrollment
- Higher education enrollment is always counter-cyclical: during an economic downturn, enrollment goes up. Eduventures Research projected a possible rise in enrollment in higher institutions, particularly in those currently struggling with recruitment.
- Several studies have linked economic recession and international disasters with worse academic results due to students’ absences. According to Chalk Beat, missing ten days of a mathematics class in high school would lower grades while also reduce graduation and college enrollment by 6% and 5 points, respectively.
- Economic recession leads to deep education spending cuts. Several states always make bigger cutbacks, which eventually result in poor college enrollment rates and worse test scores. A cut of $1,000 per student would translate to nearly a 3% point average decline in higher education enrollment.
- Inside Higher Ed projected that the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to affect state education budgets. Nearly a decade into the economic recovery, the state funding per student remains below the pre-recession levels, with states like Arizona still have more than 40% cut per student since the Great Recession. If the international disaster prolongs, it would have a devastating impact on higher education budgets, which would affect the rate of student enrollment.
- Forbes reported that the COVID-19 outbreak currently witnessed would affect enrollment in higher education. American universities will witness a decrease in the enrollment of international students, of which one-third come from China. With economic impacts and test cancellations, the virus will affect the admissions cycle.
- An international disaster can derail the enrollment plans of high school students and prospective college learners. A new survey conducted by The Chronicle found that one in 6 high school students who planned to enroll in a 4-year college full-time program before the COVID-19 outbreak is not considering a new path this fall. 3 to 5 students, though still maintain that they will enroll in their bachelor’s degree program, are concerned about their ability to attend their first-choice institutions.