According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s (NSCRC) most recent report in its COVID-19 Transfer, Mobility, and Progress Report series, college student transfers fell precipitously over the two years of the Covid-19 epidemic, falling by 296,200 transfer students, or 13.5%.
The conclusions are based on an examination of institutions that include 89.9% of the Clearinghouse universe and will enrol more than 13 million undergraduates, including 2 million transfer students, in the 2021–22 academic year.
Almost 2.2 million college students transferred to other institutions of higher learning during the 2019–20 academic year. Transfer losses totalled roughly 200,000 fewer students, or a loss of 9.1%, in the academic year 2020–21, the first year of the epidemic. In the second year of the pandemic, the academic year 2021–2022, the declines slightly lessened, although 97,200 more transfer students were lost, resulting in a 4.9% loss.
The enrolment loss of non-transfer students, which decreased by 6.3%, or around 590,600 students during the same period, was more than twice as great as the transfer loss after two years of the epidemic.
Recent research on student learning experiences during the COVID-19 epidemic has found the following difficulties experienced by students who study abroad:
- Conditions-related study difficulties (i.e., access to a quiet place to study, equipment, reliable internet connection and course study materials, and confidence in using online platforms)
- Funding-related difficulties (such as lost employment or income, difficulty covering living expenses, and problems receiving scholarships)
- Issues with well-being (such as a lack of social networks that can be relied upon and pronounced feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and boredom with academic tasks) (Farnell, et al., 2021, see also Doolan et al., 2021; Aristovnik et al., 2020; Amoah and Mok, 2020).
Another disappointing finding was that for individuals transferring in the fall term, total post-transfer persistence rates fell from 80.7% (pre-pandemic) to 80.4% (year 1) to 80.3% (year 2), and for transfers in the spring term, they fell from 70.7% (pre-pandemic) to 69.8%. Younger students (20 years old or younger), men, students pursuing bachelor’s degrees, and those attending private non-profit four-year colleges showed some indicators of improvement in persistence in year 2.
While all three types of transfers suffered losses as a result of the pandemic, their rates of decline varied. Students can move between institutions in one of three different directions :
- Reverse transfers—where four-year students go from four-year to two-year institutions—showed a significant decline of 18.0% or 66,900 fewer students.
- The number of lateral transfers—where students move from one four-year institution to another or between two-year colleges—was also significantly lower. The decline in lateral transfers between two-year colleges was 21.3% or 113,300 fewer students. There were 29,900 fewer lateral transfers among four-year students, a 7.6% decline.
- Upward transfers—where students go from a two-year college to a four-year university—were down 86,000 students or 9.7%.
All sorts of students experienced a decline in transfer requests. Older students made up 85% of the two-year fall in transfer enrolment, declining at a rate more than twice as fast as younger students (-16.2% vs. -7.2% for those 20 or younger).
Transfers from White Students fell by 16.4% (163,100 students). Black students’ transfers decreased by 16.4%. (54,800 students). Transfer enrolments among Native Americans fell by 15.6%. (3,100 students).
Since the pandemic, transfer enrolment has declined by 15.6% for men (139,000 fewer students), a somewhat higher rate of drop than the 12.2% loss for women (153,000 fewer students). In the first year of the pandemic, transfers by men fell more, whereas transfers by women fell more in the second year.
Some of the enrolment effects of the numerous challenges associated with moving between universities during the epidemic are revealed in this two-year review. The transfer is often a difficult and tedious operation, but during the worst of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, it seems to have evolved into a daunting issue, replete with barriers and hurdles. According to the NSCRC’s directors, schools and universities should use these data to create the support services that transfer students are most likely to require.
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