In a boon for higher education leaders, a new dashboard will visualize historical enrollment and population trends, forecast future trends, and provide insights into student migration flow and online-only education.

The Student Trends and Enrollment Projections Dashboard (STEP) – launched by the University of Utah’s Sorenson Impact Center (SIC) – is intended to “empower higher education leaders to navigate an anticipated nationwide enrollment decline projected to start in 2025.”

According to SIC, the dashboard was developed as part of its MAPS [Model, Analyze, Prototype, and Share] project, which is a student-centric initiative to chart the shifting landscape of higher education. The project is financially supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

STEP uses data from College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). With the compiled data, users are able to drill down to the state level and filter by institution type, year, student race, student gender and more to understand potential areas of opportunity.

In a press release, SIC said that the new dashboard can “position academic institutions to robustly understand demographic trends and enrollment projections across the United States by toggling various features to generate visualized, specific data insights.” The dashboard also uses multiple statistical models to generate predictions based on high, mid, and low scenarios of population and enrollment changes through 2030 and incorporates data from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center believes that by disaggregating data by student gender and race and visualizing it by geographic area, the STEP Dashboard “generates actionable insights into where undergraduate students are attending college, how that has changed over time for different student groups, and what enrollment could look like in the future.”

The Sorenson Impact Center said that more importantly, the new dashboard also visualizes how the relationship between enrollment and population is dynamic and changing. Which it says is “key” for leaders to understand is that both the number of high school students available to enroll, and the proportion of high school graduates actually enrolling, are declining in some demographic groups.

“While many colleges and universities are working to ensure their enrollment strategies meet the needs of today’s students, it’s also important for these institutions to invest in retaining, graduating and positively impacting these future leaders,” said Megan Brewster, director of the Sorenson Impact Center. “By leveraging the STEP Dashboard’s data-driven insights, higher education leaders can position themselves to not only attract but authentically support the diverse students of tomorrow so that both students and institutions can thrive in the future.”

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