Changing enrollment picture prompts need for change
At last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, I reported on our fall enrollment from a perspective that likely has not been available to report before.
Though our head count (10,054) is up from the past two falls (9,786 and 9,807), respectively, and our enrolled hours total (101,192) is relatively unchanged from a year ago (101,243), further data analysis digging reveals a more troublesome picture.
2 types of enrollees
Our 10,054 students include those who attend classes on our campus through traditional means as full time and part-time students. They are charged traditional tuition and fees for on-campus classes at rates set by the Purdue Board of Trustees. These students are enrolled in 86,950 hours.
Our remaining students are classified under Academic Outreach. They include enrollees in our Saturday MBAE program; our English Language and English Training in Engineering programs, primarily for international students; the High School Dual Credit program; the On-Line Nursing and On-Line Education programs; and our contract instructional programs, perhaps more familiar to some of you as part of our former DEEL program.
Our Academic Outreach students are enrolled in 14,242 hours. That total represents a significant 35 percent increase from fall 2011 and nearly three times that of fall 2010 Academic Outreach hours. Unfortunately, inasmuch as fee reimbursement varies for Academic Outreach students, most of the tuition that exceeds expenses is reinvested into the programs.
Declining traditional enrolled hours
Additionally and more importantly, traditional campus enrollees have been declining. The 86,950 hours those students are taking this fall represent a drop of 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively, from the previous two years.
It is from the hours enrolled by these traditional campus enrollees that we budget and expend for classes taught. We budget based on the previous academic year’s credit hour production; thus, the 12 percent decrease we have experienced over the past two years means we are spending significantly more than will be returned to us in tuition and state funding.
Thoughtful, prudent change
In light of these sobering revelations, my bottom line message here is this: our university—all of us—must thoughtfully and prudently change our approach and decision-making relative to the study programs we offer and the classes we schedule. This will be a focal point of attention in the weeks and months to come.
Thomas L. Keon