ETSU enrollment decreases
ETSU saw a decrease in enrollment this year that adversely impacted the university's budget.
Enrollment fell by 449 students between spring 2013 and spring 2014, which resulted in the university implementing a 1 1/2 percent budget cut.
"With the decline in enrollment this past year, we did institute some belt-tightening activities," ETSU President Brian Noland said. "I wouldn't altogether classify them as dramatic cuts. ... It's not that the bottom fell out of the budget. It's that we were managing our resources, and in the course of managing those resources, those resources were reflective of the fact that enrollment did not meet our projective levels, upon which the budget has been based."
Due to the fact that the percentage of state support per full-time-equivalent student has decreased from 66 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2011, student-generated revenue plays a more important role in funding university processes.
"What you've seen is a significant reduction in state support for post-secondary education," Noland said. "... Every state has witnessed a reduction in support for post-secondary education, but the thing that I think is unique about Tennessee is that the numbers have just completely flipped. So, it was 61 cents on the dollar in 2000 from the state. Now, it's 61 cents on the dollar from students."
Tuition and student fees now provide 61 percent of the revenue necessary for the university to operate.
"With each passing day, we become a state-assisted institution that is operated, managed and planned more like a private institution traditionally has," Noland said. "Because of changes in the federal landscape and changes in the state landscape, we are, for all intensive purposes, beginning to plan, beginning to budget and beginning to examine priorities from an enrollment-dedicated perspective, which is traditionally how private universities have been run."
Noland said that the university's enrollment has been negatively impacted by the decrease in the number of high school graduates in the state of Tennessee.
"You see a reduction of right around 3,600 students graduating from high school," Noland said. "That has impacts on enrollment across the [TBR]system; there are less students to populate the universities. That's, then, reflected in the downturns at both TBR, as well as UT."
In response to the decrease in enrollment, ETSU has implemented several initiatives aimed at retaining students.
"The big factor that drives enrollment is retention," Noland said. "So, as we look at growing enrollment moving forward it's not only growing the enrollment of new students, it's ensuring that more of the students who begin their education journey here remain on that path to completion."
Noland said that, in the future, the university will be developing budget alternatives at a number of enrollment rates.
"I'm really confident that a lot of the changes we've put in place in our enrollment management area ... will turn the tide, and we'll see an increase in the number of freshmen."
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