Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Enrollment algorithms are contributing to the crises of higher education

Engler, A. (2021, September 14). Enrollment algorithms are contributing to the crises of higher education. Brookings.


As part of their strategy to attract more students, an increasing number of higher education institutions are relying on the use of algorithms. Such algorithms first calculate the likeliness of students to enroll, and then distribute scholarships accordingly to ensure the highest number of potential students join the institution. While those algorithms might be beneficial to institutions, both financially and administratively, they also negatively affect students by generally offering them fewer funding opportunities. The extensive use of such practices also favours student discrimination, and may even be damaging for other key metrics, such as graduation rates and student debt.

The authors outline several suggestions to improve this worrying trend, and actively discourage the use of algorithms for the allocation of scholarships. In cases where such practices are necessary, the process and objectives should be extensively monitored and reported, to ensure a fair and transparent procedure for all students involved. Furthermore, the long-term repercussions of the use of enrollment algorithms need to be documented to understand whether this practice has negative effects on students' graduation rates and debt levels.

The full online report can be accessed here.