May 3, 2022
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.
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.