By Saba Mann
The university’s enrollment has been fluctuating over the past few years, and UAlbany is taking several options to combat the low numbers.
The Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEM) is aimed at modestly growing enrollment from now to 2023.
It’s composed of five points specifically targeting: graduate students, retention, increasing the undergrad applicant pool, recruiting international students, and creating a larger online presence.
This comes at a time where state aid is dropping, leaving revenue to decline as enrollment dips.
“It's difficult to isolate with certainty one thing that’s causing a decline. They’re not all forces we can control,” says Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, Director of Media and Community Relations at the university’s Office of Government and Community Relations.
In the fall of 2016, total student enrollment was 17,294, which increased to 17,943 in 2018.
The enrollment for the Spring 2020 semester is 17,538 students.
Since graduate students have differing needs and largely don’t require housing, the university has the capacity to serve more of them and is working on attracting more of them.
The number and quality of graduate students are directly related to research. UAlbany is an R1 university, the highest level of research divisions, which comes with lots of external funding and the greatest number of doctoral degrees awarded.
“It’s about creating flexibility,” Carleo-Evangelist says. “As the number of non-traditional students attending college is on the rise, UAlbany is working to make the university appealing to them.”
The university offers several online degrees at the graduate level, including an M.S. in Higher Education and an advanced certificate in Communication. The College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity offers a BS in Informatics, a fully online undergraduate degree.
“That's a whole new pool of students we can compete for and bring in to help get degrees that we hope will improve their lives,” explains Carleo-Evangelist.
Hybrid programs that include classes being online and in-person allow more accessibility to those who can’t be on campus.
A priority is to focus on high demand programs, which is one of the reasons the new college of engineering is being built in downtown Albany.
One of the many recruitment strategies includes increasing campus-based financial aid opportunities. The creation of the Capital District Leadership Awards will give eight awards of $7,000 and 20 awards of $3,000 yearly to recipients.
Students attending high school in the Capital Region who have shown leadership skills, starting with the incoming freshmen class, are eligible to apply.
“I think it reveals a two-fold interest on our end, which is we want the best students from our own backyard to come to us and we want people who are driven, are leaders, and who want to be engaged on a government and community level,” Carleo-Evangelist said.
The Strategic Allocation of Resources program (StAR), is a plan that involves using the university's budget in certain areas focused on improving enrollment and retention.
The 2019-20 plan includes the Academic Recovery Program, which assists students who are in probationary academic standing, the UBelong @ UAlbany, which keeps new students connected to the university, and the Great Dane Completion Program, which helps support students financially to get their degrees, among others.
The goal is to make the transition as easy and seamless as possible for students, whether that means overcoming financial hurdles or having better advisement.
That includes keeping a strong bond with Hudson Valley Community College through UAlbany’s multiple transfer agreements with them.
Carleo-Evangelist says it’s a matter of figuring out how to present the university to people they want to recruit, and making it seem like an excellent option to them.