Florida, beware: DeSantis’ war on woke may decrease enrollment

Of all the surveyed students enrolled in a public college, 5% are "definitely" or "probably" thinking about transferring due to the governor's policies.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s recent legislation is not only fiercely unpopular among current and prospective college students, but it also may drive them out of the state’s public higher education system, according to a new report by Intelligent.

Among 1,147 students who either currently attend an undergraduate public college in Florida or intend to upon graduating, only 147 agreed with DeSantis’ policies. Specifically, 91% of prospective college students disagree with DeSantis’ policies and 79% of current students disagree.

Alarmingly, DeSantis’ policies are reportedly dissuading 12% of prospective students away from Florida schools—even those that agree with his policies. Of the 713 prospective college students who did disagree with DeSantis’ policies, more than a quarter said they are unlikely to attend a state school (27%). Nearly half (49%) of those students who are reportedly not planning to attend a Florida state school cited his education policies as the main reason.

What this means is that out of all Florida high school students planning to enroll in an undergraduate program next academic year, one in eight plan to refuse a state college or university specifically due to DeSantis’ education policies.

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Still, 57% of prospective students who disagree with DeSantis’ policies still plan to attend a Florida college or university, yet their concerns permeate: 78% of these students fear how the governor’s policies will impact their education. Students who are primarily motivated to attend these schools out of sheer location, possibly their proximity to home, showed the most concern. Students motivated to attend a school due to their programs showed the least.

While prospective students are looking away from Florida’s public schools, college students currently attending one seem to be looking for a way out. Of all the surveyed students enrolled in a public college, 5% are “definitely” or “probably” thinking about transferring due to DeSantis’ policies. This is among all students—both those who agree and those who disagree with DeSantis. A total of 21% of students who disagree with DeSantis are thinking about transferring.

Most students who dissent from DeSantis are choosing to stay, stating finance as the main reason. However, more than half are concerned (31%) or very concerned (25%) with how politics will interfere with their education.

While DeSantis bills targeting faculty tenure began to shake up teacher vacancies in Florida, this survey seems to forecast students will be turning away from Florida, too, which can decrease the state’s enrollment.

Of the 1,147 respondents, only current undergraduate students that will be enrolled in another semester in Fall 2023 and graduating high schoolers who plan to attend college than were considered for the survey.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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