March 1, 2023In the News

Kaufman and Passini co-author ACI article, "The Looming Demographic Cliff: Proactive Strategies and Legal Considerations to Address This and Other Challenges in Higher Education"

Associated Colleges of Illinois

The impending “demographic cliff” is not news to anyone working in or around higher education. The sharp decline in high school graduates that is expected to decrease enrollment numbers significantly is only a few years away. However, census data and high school graduation enrollment numbers show the demographic cliff may be more pronounced in Illinois than in other states. In Illinois, the number of high school graduates reached its peak in 2014- 15 and is projected to decline by up to around 25% by mid-2030.1 Based on the data and its anticipated impact in Illinois, Illinois higher education institutions (“HEIs”) must ensure they have a plan in place to lessen the impact of the demographic cliff on their bottom line.

Moreover, HEIs are already dealing with a decline in state funding, inflation, competing with lower-priced and more flexible online education alternatives, decreased public confidence in college education, concerns over student debt, and of course, the pandemic. Add declining enrollment to this list, and it is not surprising that some experts believe higher education crisis is at an inflection point.

Every HEI has its own circumstances and culture, and thus will want to develop its strategies and course of action on an individualized basis. When considering options, HEIs must consider the legal implications of potential actions, some of which will be discussed here. Further, this article only touches on a few strategies HEIs can implement. HEIs will want to think strategically and creatively as they prepare a holistic plan to help ensure their long-term survival.

To read the entire ACI article, please click here.

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