Can the press not read? The Board of Regents press release says, “Fall Headcount Grows Slightly at Public Universities.” The AP headline scrolling across the Web is “Fall Enrollment Flat at South Dakota Public Universities.”
Systemwide, South Dakota’s six public universities gained 92 students over last year’s count, up 0.25% to 36,531. However, count up credits and divide by 15 for undergrads, 12 for grad students, 15 for law students, and 19 for med students, and the full-time equivalent student count drops by 84.1, a 0.32% decrease to 26.599.7 FTE.
NSU and DSU both broke 1% headcount growth: NSU netted 91 new bodies on campus for 2.60% growth, while DSU netted 45 for 1.43% growth. Only BHSU saw headcount shrink, which canceled out the gains at NSU, DSU, and Mines by losing 151 bodies, a 3.44% decline (which I don’t get—do you high school graduates not know how beautiful Spearfish is?).
Interestingly, NSU coupled the highest headcount gain with the largest credit-FTE loss by percentage. NSU lost 41.8 FTEs, a 2.10% decline. DSU was the only FTE gainer, adding 37.8 credit FTEs, a 2.03% gain.
If we divide credit FTEs by headcount, we get a picture of which campuses’ students take more credits:
|Institution||FY2015 FTE/headcount||FY2016 FTE/headcount||change (percentage points)|
Predictably, the Hardrockers take the most credits per student. The Jackrabbits and the Coyotes have the next highest credit FTE/headcount ratios. Mines, SDSU, and USD are above the systemwide average, suggesting they have a higher proportion of students taking a full load of classes. Among our smaller universities, the Yellow Jackets appear to take a few more credits than their Trojan and Wolf counterparts.
This year’s slight systemwide changes fit a six-year flatline:
These twenty-year charts show the clear recession era enrollment surges, plus up-blips in 1998 and 2005. Otherwise, the Regental system doesn’t post monumental growth or declines in enrollment and credit FTEs. Given that the Regents’ goal is ever-growing enrollment, we appear to need a strategy that doesn’t wait for economic distress to swell our collegiate ranks.