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Transfer enrollment falls 6.9% in spring from a year ago

Transfer enrollment falls 6.9% in spring from a year ago

Higher Ed Dive

Natalie Schwartz
May 3, 2022
Dive Brief: 
  • Transfer enrollment dropped 6.9% this spring compared to last year, with upward transfers from two-year colleges to four-year institutions bearing the brunt of the declines, according to data released Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
  • Those upward transfers dropped 11.6% year over year this spring. All student groups experienced declines, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity.
  • These trends wiped out upward transfer enrollment gains seen last year among select groups, including women, and Asian and Latinx students.
Dive Insight: 
The clearinghouse’s latest enrollment report indicates more turbulence is ahead for the higher education sector. Transfer enrollment has declined 16% since the pandemic started, and spring figures show the losses have slowed little as coronavirus restrictions ease.
The losses in upward transfer are most likely a ripple effect of pandemic-related enrollment declines at community colleges, according to the report.
Other experts agreed.
“This is not a terribly surprising development given the steep enrollment declines among community colleges since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Justin Ortagus, a higher education professor at the University of Florida. Overall community college enrollment plummeted by 19.7% from spring 2020 to spring 2022.
Declines in upward transfer came after this enrollment type held steady in spring 2021, rising year over year by 0.1%. Enrollment of students transferring from four-year institutions to two-year colleges, called reverse transfer, also fell sharply in spring 2022, by 4.4%. The same was true of students transferring between two-year colleges, which dropped 11.1% year over year this spring.

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