DETROIT – Students at Michigan's public universities are registering for summer courses online at record rates, marking an unexpected windfall for several schools strapped for cash due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nine of the 10 institutions that shared data with the Detroit Free Press projected a year-over-year growth in summer enrollment, with two-thirds of these schools anticipating a boost of at least 4% for one or more of their summer periods.
Figures also show 56% of college presidents nationwide forecast an 11% or more enrollment decline for the fall, according to a May survey by the American Council on Education.
Eastern Michigan University Vice President Kevin Kucera said the “robust” interest in summer classes should fuel around $75,000 in extra revenue, relative to last year, despite initial worries that the university would lose nearly $4 million because of an enrollment drop.
At Wayne State University, only about a third of spring/summer credit hours are normally taken online. With nearly all instruction shifting virtually in light of social-distancing guidelines, participation is up nearly 6%.
Not all college programs are burgeoning, however. Michigan State University spokesperson Daniel Olsen said that since the university's study abroad opportunities were canceled amid the coronavirus travel halt, MSU summer enrollment was down 6.5% from the same time last year. As a result, the university projected a 4% revenue decline.
Michigan Medicine Statistician John Poe, who teaches graduate-oriented summer courses for the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, said he is “pleasantly surprised” by students’ engagement in the virtual setting.
“People have been very engaged, asking lots of questions,” Poe said. “I think it’s actually going to end up working out pretty well, at least in the context of summer program.”