Estimates put the future of the institution at risk
N Y I T ’ s interim and upcoming new administration are faced with one of the institution’s major problems: the solid decline in first-year enrollments over the last five to six years. Records, plunging as much as 20 percent, primarily account for enrollments of domestic students in undergraduate programs.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports a general downward trend of 4 percent among private non-profit colleges all over the country between 2010, the peak year in enrollments, and 2014. For the fall of 2016, enrollments at four-year private nonprofit schools, like NYIT, decreased by 0.6% according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Although NYIT is not an exception to the rule as other private nonprofit New York colleges like Adelphi University, The New School, and St John’s University have also seen their enrollments drop between 2010 and 2015⎯ it runs the risk of a serious downfall in the future. Numbers show it might be enrolling fewer than 250 first-year domestic students in 2023 (compared to more than 1,000 in 2009) as opposed to undergrad enrollment in the country which is projected to increase by 14 percent by 2025 according to NCES.
At the same time, major New York colleges, like Columbia, Cornell, Fordham, NYU, Pace University and Pratt Institute, have experienced a remarkable increase in enrollments.
“We have seen a general decline the last five years on the domestic side, on both campuses, particularly on the Old Westbury campus,” says the Vice President of Enrollment Management, Ronald Maggiore. “The reasons for that should be pretty obvious if you think about the reasonable commutable distance from OW campus and if you also look at the patterns of highschool graduates on the Island.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is indeed a shift in demographics on the island. In 2000, 25.7 percent of the population was under 18. By 2020, it is expected to decline to 23.9 percent. That means there will be less students graduating high school and thus attending college.
“Demands in education are counter-cyclical with the economic or occupational demand as well,” adds Ronald. “When the economy or demand for a particular profession is in decline, you see more people coming back to school. So, we become like the wise investors in stock market who diversify their portfolios. The more colleges diversify their offerings, this stabilizes enrollment over a longer period of time.”
“One of the biggest challenges for colleges like NYIT that focus on STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is finding students who have the required educational preparation. We are now launching a National Recruitment Effort, expanding further to different states.”
The regressive trend means a lot to colleges like NYIT who depend on tuition and fees to cover their operational costs. It can affect the quality of recruited students, the school’s prestige, as well as lower the cost of tuition. The latter is a possibility Ronald did not completely rule out.