Written for The Argo by Erin Kee
Dr. Robert Heinrich announced at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting that Stockton’s enrollment has continued to decline this semester, following in trend with the three previous semesters.
Stockton University’s overall student headcount has decreased by about 8%, approximately 600 students, from the prior year. The full-time equivalency at the university has also decreased about 9% in the same time period.
Heinrich said there are some hopeful signs. He said there was some excitement when recruiting for the current semester because of the large number of applicants, however, cites the emergence of the omicron variant as the Achilles heel leading to the overall decline in enrollment this semester.
If this current trend of enrollment continues, there would be negative impacts on the overall revenue of the institution due to the reduced amount of tuition, fees, and housing revenue that the university would be receiving.
“It is difficult to predict the exact impacts; however, it most certainly would mean that as an institution we would need to remain fiscally conservative to ensure that our budgetary expenses are not exceeding our revenue,” Heinrich said
“Fortunately, as an administration we have been fiscally conservative in both the current and prior fiscal years, coupled with federal stimulus funding benefits, which has allowed us to remain financially stable,” he added in later comments.
The spring 2022 semester enrollment offered some hope to the university. While enrollment had an overall drop, and continued to decrease for transfer students. The enrollment numbers for first year and graduate students were up in numbers.
Heinrich emphasized the work being done by the enrollment office to increase the student headcount through strategies that will differentiate Stockton from other New Jersey institutions.
“We are doing more to connect with prospective students in the northeastern portion of New Jersey where the highest percentage of high school students are currently located in the state,” he said.
The pandemic has been cited as the main influencer in a decrease in enrollment at institutions across the state.
“Re-opening our doors and having prospective students visit us in person is an important part of this strategy,” Heinrich added. “Additionally, we are expanding our High School Dual Credit partnerships along with the Community Colleges across the state that we have Transfer Pathway Partnerships with.”
These strategies are in hope that additional outreach into the community will bolster the enrollment numbers. He continued by adding the importance of supporting current Stockton students in their studies while balancing the recruitment of a larger number of new students.