Realities and priorities for admissions and retention leaders

Results of UB's Outlook on 2019 survey of enrollment and retention administrators
By: | Issue: January/February, 2019
January 31, 2019

The majority of administrators at colleges represented in our access and enrollment survey are anticipating at least modest increases in overall student enrollment and in numbers of students who are learning primarily or exclusively online in 2019. International enrollment is expected to stay about the same for more than half of respondents, although this population is going to decrease at only 17 percent of schools.

Results of Outlook on 2019 survey of campus admissions and retention leaders

Results of Outlook on 2019 survey of campus admissions and retention leaders

In UB’s survey of administrators with admissions, marketing, financial aid and retention-related job functions, the 204 respondents represent a mix of institution sizes, with the greatest percentages coming from colleges with enrollment of 1,000 to 5,000 students and with more than 15,000 students.

As in last year’s survey, over half of respondents are expecting modest graduation rate increases in 2019; 6 in 10 anticipate modest increases in retention rates. Administrators at very few institutions see significant increases in their crystal balls.

Nearly half of the colleges and universities represented will have expanded academic offerings in the coming year. And nearly 6 in 10 see on the horizon more enrollment-related partnerships with other higher ed institutions and/or high schools. But 62% are anticipating overnight worries about not having enough resources to do their jobs in 2019. Only about 1 in 10 will have more staff to help get the work done.

The type of student services seeing the biggest increase in terms of priorities in the new year is financial aid and literacy awareness and services. Other top-growing priorities include providing students with guidance on degree programs and expanding campus visit-related supports. Last year, these items made up the top three increases in student services and supports as well. As with last year, the greatest demands of respondents’ individual roles center around data—with more than three-quarters saying they will be placing a greater emphasis on leveraging data to identify and solve problems in 2019.

An indication that department silos continue to break down on campuses is that nearly half of respondents anticipate having more contact with other departments in 2019. About the same percentage cite they will have a greater emphasis on budgets and on the core business of serving students. With all the challenges related to the above areas, perhaps it’s no surprise that about half of administrators surveyed envision a year with more and greater problems to solve crossing their desks.

Source: UB survey; all numbers have been rounded


Read more Outlook on 2019 features.