Projecting Student Numbers
Introduction | Projecting Student Numbers | What do we need to account for? | Treating the Capital Costs of Materials Development | Marginal Cost | Crossover Point
Accurate projections of the number of students who are likely to enrol for a new course are essential for estimating its costs. Where actual enrolments fall significantly below the projected number, then income will be lost and average costs will be higher than expected. As a result, instead of breaking even or producing a surplus over the life of the course, the institution will actually lose money. On the other hand, if student numbers exceed projected enrolments, problems may also arise in relation to the printing of study materials and the provision of places for face-to-face tutorials.
In some cases, there may be historical data available to assist in projecting student numbers. For example, where an ODL institution draws the majority of its learners from those who cannot be accommodated in conventional schools, then statistics should be available from the country’s Ministry of Education on the number of students who did not reach the required standard for promotion. Examination results can provide useful data on the relative success and failure in different subjects which may be used to project student numbers.
In some cases, a new course may be developed to enable particular categories of employees to obtain professional qualifications (for example, agricultural extension workers). In these circumstances, market research should give some indication of the total number of unqualified workers currently in employment, the annual turnover of staff and projected expansion of employee numbers in the field.
When a course or programme lasts more than a single year, it is essential to make a separate projection for each year’s batch or cohort of students. The actual number of students who register for the second (or subsequent) year of a course is dependent upon the number who were enrolled as first-year students the previous year, as well as the rates of failure and repetition.