Wright State budget chief: Past enrollment projections didn’t rely on data

Until recently, Wright State University’s enrollment projections did not use much data and analytics to predict how many students would attend the school, board members were told today.

In previous years, Wright State’s enrollment estimates did not rely on data, and the financial benefits of boosting the number of students enrolled was not really analyzed from a budget perspective, Walt Branson, vice president for finance told the WSU board of trustees today.

Branson started at working at Wright State in September 2017. Before he arrived, Branson said that it appears the university would project its enrollment to match whatever its goal was. So, if WSU had a goal of growing enrollment by 5 percent, the university would project that’s what it was expected to increase by.

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Projecting enrollment in that way is not “realistic,” Branson said. Now, WSU is trying to take a more “collaborative” approach to estimating enrollment, Branson said.

“What we’re doing now is a much more analytical and data driven way to do it,” Branson said.

It’s hard to say if Wright State’s previous method to estimating enrollment is why officials didn’t foresee its decline, Branson said.

Wright State’s enrollment was expected to dip below 17,000 for the first time last fall since 2007 to around 16,224, nearly 3,550 below the school’s peak in 2010 when a transition from quarters to semesters started taking place, according to a fiscal year 2019 budget. Though similar sized schools are also facing enrollment issues, Wright State’s full-time enrollment from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2017 dropped 13 percent.


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