SFSU experiences a drastic decrease in enrollment since pre-pandemic times which affects funding, tuition and overall campus welfare. (Graphic by Stephanie King / Golden Gate Xpress)
SFSU experiences a drastic decrease in enrollment since pre-pandemic times which affects funding, tuition and overall campus welfare. (Graphic by Stephanie King / Golden Gate Xpress)
Stephanie King

SFSU enrollment drops, resulting in uncertainty among community

A look into the numbers which show a 22% decline in the student population

San Francisco State student enrollment continues to drop below pre-pandemic numbers, with initial data from SF State’s Institutional Research for Fall 2023 declining 22% from Fall 2018, resulting in class cancellations, faculty uncertainty and decreased funding.

“When required classes are canceled, it affects students’ education,” said Brad Erickson, Chapter President, California Faculty Association, SFSU. “Some students can’t graduate on time and might not graduate at all. Smaller majors and programs are threatened with their very survival when course cancellations undermine their viability.”

Kim Schwartz, the director of the School of Theatre and Dance, says the department has not been able to offer a ‘single-subject’ design course for several semesters.

“Our design-interested students are not able to receive legitimate classroom training prior to working on one of our curricular shows,” said Schwartz. ”The impact of these reductions has been traumatic for us, none of our design-interested students are able to receive legitimate classroom training prior to working on one of our curricular shows.”

A graphic comparing enrollment data from Aug. 22 in the past five years from SF State’s Institutional Research. In 2018, enrollment was 29,586. In 2019, 28,880. In 2020, 27,075. In 2021, 26,620. In 2022, 25,046. In 2023, 23,182. (Graphic by Stephanie King/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Having fewer classes leads to low enrollment, which impacts lecturers and the courses they can teach.

“I lost one course due to low enrollment and had two more taken from me to give to tenured faculty colleagues,” said Erickson. “In turn, three courses were taken from other lecturer faculty to meet my entitlement. It was disruptive and demoralizing for everyone, it was harmful to lecturer faculty whose course load entitlements were not honored.”

Katie Lynch, Senior Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, said there are several contributing factors to the decline in enrollment.

“Community college enrollment has been down over the past several years, limiting our number of transfer students,” said Lynch. “But many [numbers] are rebounding.”

Funding is also at risk with lower tuition and fee revenue, with fewer students attending SFSU due to San Francisco’s geographic location. “60% percent of the state’s population lives south of Los Angeles,” said Lynch.

“We are not growing and still shrinking overall,” said Schwartz. “We are intentionally working toward adopting a new way of doing things that we hope will draw more interest.”

The overall California college enrollment decreased 4.96% from 2010 to 2020, according to the Education Data Initiative.

“With many projects and initiatives, it is expected to see an improvement in enrollment,” said Sutee Sujitparapitaya, Associate Provost for Institutional Analytics.

“We are hiring a recruitment team member who lives in southern California to build partnerships and relationships in that area,” said Lynch.

Students can still add classes until Sept. 11 with permission numbers.

The final census data for Fall 2023 will be available on Oct. 9.

 

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About the Contributor
Stephanie King, Staff Reporter
Stephanie King is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. She is a print and online journalism major with a minor in sociology. She is also enrolled in SFSU’s College of Professional & Global Education, completing a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Stephanie is a freelance writer and published author. She grew up in Marin Country, and now enjoys her rent-controlled San Francisco home with her cat, Sophie. When Stephanie is not reading biographies or other non-fiction, she attends San Francisco sports games and is a season ticket holder for The Golden State Warriors.

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