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California State Universities’ local enrolment: pandemic persistence and retention trends

In the most recent budget proposal of California State (CalState), three universities in the public state university system: UCLA, UC Berkley, and UC San Diego will be required to increase in-state enrolment over the next five years if passed. The proposed increase in in-state enrolment indicates a prioritisation of the state in supporting local students more explicitly.

The bill goes on to propose that the three universities should share a combined increase of at least 15,000 more in-state student enrolments. Since nonresident and international students pay considerably more tuition than in-state students, the extra revenue in previous years from enrolments of both groups has provided CalState universities more opportunities to improve educational programmes.

Therefore, if the budget proposal is passed by lawmakers later this summer, the universities will receive extra state funding to supplement the intake of in-state students. Despite studies that indicate that increases in domestic enrolment do not impact international enrolment, it remains to be seen if this will indeed alter nonresident and international student enrolment in CalState universities.

The aforementioned bill was proposed in June 2021. If adopted, the prioritisation of local student enrolment could be one approach to counter trends of negative persistence (and retention) rates in the U.S., and a potential approach for other state university systems impacted by the pandemic.

A recent study published by the National Student Clearinghouse shows that the persistence rate – the percentage of U.S. students returning for their second year at university - has declined from 76%, to 74%, as of autumn 2020. The trend of a decreased persistence rate has also been observed at community colleges, which have been even more negatively impacted than public and private universities. Following this trend, the percentage of Latinx students from autumn 2019 that have not continued their degree programme – neither at the same institution nor other institutions - has also declined, comparatively more than Asian, White, and Black students. These downward trends are likely related to the pandemic and to politically-related hardships of 2020.

The Pie News

Persistence and Retention Report