A Boston college blames pro-Palestinian student protests for lower enrollment

A Boston college blames pro-Palestinian student protests for lower enrollment
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Pro-Palestinian supporters and students from Emerson College block an alley where they have set up an encampment as police move in to clear it, in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25, 2024.
Emerson was one of several Boston-area colleges that saw pro-Palestinian protests earlier this year.

  • Emerson College in Boston says student protests have resulted in a decline in enrollment rates this year, per CBS News.
  • An internal letter said the college is looking to reduce spending and eliminate staff.
  • However, declining college enrollment could also be due to Gen Z’s changing sentiments toward higher education.

Student protests are one of the reasons Emerson College in Boston is facing a decline in enrollment this fall, an internal message to staff stated, per CBS News.

“We attribute this reduction to multiple factors, including national enrollment trends away from smaller private institutions, an enrollment deposit delay in response to the new FAFSA rollout, student protests targeting our yield events and campus tours, and negative press and social media generated from the demonstrations and arrests,” Emerson College president Jay Bernhardt wrote in the letter.

In late April, Emerson students set up a pro-Palestine encampment in a public alley next to Boylston Street, following the student protests that started at Columbia University earlier in the month.

Protesters at Emerson called for a cease-fire in Gaza and urged the college to divest from organizations with ties to Israel, per NBC Boston.

On April 25, over 100 protesters were arrested at Emerson when the police in riot gear moved in to dismantle the camp. According to the police, the protesters were breaking city ordinances that banned camping on public property, per CBS News.

Although the decline in enrollment is expected to be “a one-year phenomenon,” the college will have to make “immediate spending reductions” — including possible faculty layoffs, the letter stated.

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“We will limit our staff and faculty searches next year and carefully review existing programs and offerings for future savings,” Bernhardt said in the letter. “Finally, we will need to eliminate some staff positions, both vacant and filled, and potentially reduce some faculty positions.”

According to the latest data on the college’s website, Emerson enrolled 1,002 first-year students in fall 2022.

The college enrolled a total of 4,149 undergraduate students in fall 2022, 4,117 in fall 2021, and 3,708 in fall 2020, Boston Herald reported.

The number of students enrolled for the fall 2024 term has not been shared, and it’s unclear how many students Emerson had expected for the upcoming semester. The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

However, declining college enrollment rates could also be due to the changing sentiments of the younger generation.

More and more Gen Zs no longer see the value in higher education. A 2023 survey of over 1,800 Americans by Business Insider and YouGov revealed that 46% of Gen Zs surveyed say they don’t think college is worth the cost.

Additionally, the availability of high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree has also prompted Gen Zs to rethink college.

It doesn’t help that tuition fees are so expensive that many college graduates find themselves saddled with student debt that they just can’t escape.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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