New Survey Finds 90% of Students Likely to Continue Education This Fall

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter 

The vast majority of students at research universities plan to continue their education in the fall of 2020 even as states continue to grapple with containing the novel coronavirus, according to a new study reporting that only 1% of domestic students won’t re-enroll for the upcoming semester.

The survey, conducted by the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium based at the University of California, Berkeley, found 90% of domestic students plan to continue their studies leaving only 9% unsure of their plans for the fall. Decisions on whether to return, however, varied by program of study.

Majors in which students were most likely to be either not enrolling or undecided in their enrollment plans — each of which polled over 13% — included social sciences, communications journalism, mathematics/statistics, visual performing arts, and physical sciences.

Students enrolled in health professionals/clinical sciences; parks, recreation, leisure, or fitness studies; security and protective services; public administration or social services; and agriculture programs were more likely to resume their studies and all polled under 7% in their uncertainty, the survey found.

Among the cohort of domestic students that were uncertain in making a return to class, the report found the top three reasons stemmed from concerns about classes being held online (71%), financial constraints (49%), and experiences with the university during the COVID-19 pandemic (48%). 

SERU also analyzed what concerns international students had for resuming their studies, which had a slightly higher level of uncertainty with 15% of students either undecided or not re-enrolling for the upcoming semester.

Among the top concerns for international students were safety in the U.S. because of the COVID-19 pandemic (66%), travel restrictions (54%), and financial constraints (36%).

The report used data from 19,155 undergraduate students at five large public research universities, who completed the survey between the second half of May and June 11, 2020. The response rate as of June 11 was between 7% and 22%.


Publication Date: 6/18/2020

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