December 7, 2022

Amid Inflation Concerns and Enrollment Declines, College Administrators Offering More Flexible Learning Formats and Microcredentials to Reach New Students

New Research From Cengage, Bay View Analytics and Industry Partners Sheds Light on the Response to the College Enrollment Crisis

sideways bar graph showing levels of enrollment concerns across higher education

BOSTON—December 7, 2022 — As college increasingly becomes financially out of reach for many students and enrollments wane, concerned administrators are implementing new programs, flexible learning formats and marketing to new demographics to help ease the decline, according to new research from education technology provider Cengage, Bay View Analytics and industry partners. The Fall 2022 installment of the Digital Learning Pulse Survey found that more than 80% of administrators, faculty and students think inflation will pose a problem for students and 88% of administrators are concerned about future enrollments.

“Higher education institutions have had to be agile and willing to experiment throughout the pandemic, and that need will continue as student demand for more affordable and flexible education options only grows,” said Edwin Robles, SVP, General Manager, U.S. Higher Education and Canada at Cengage. “Students want choices on when and how they learn and institutions that are ready to meet demand for new learning formats and quality digital programs that are aligned to students’ academic and career goals will see success.”

The Digital Learning Pulse Survey is an ongoing research program to understand how higher education is evolving since the pandemic. The Fall 2022 survey was conducted by Bay View Analytics on behalf of Cengage, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) and the Higher Education Research & Development Institute (HERDI). More than 3,600 responded to the survey across two-year and four-year institutions, including 1,252 faculty and administrators and 2,358 students.

Key survey findings include:

  • College is unaffordable and inflation is making it worse. More than 80% of administrators, faculty and students across two- and four-year institutions agree that the cost of education is becoming financially out of reach for students. An even greater percentage of faculty (93%), admins (94%) and students (84%) saying rising inflation poses a problem.
    • Administrators at two-year institutions were the most concerned about inflation with 98% agreeing inflation is a problem.
  • College administrators are concerned about future enrollments; community college leaders are the most deeply concerned. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) of administrators are concerned about future enrollments, while nearly half (47%) of two-year college administrators are “very concerned.”                      
  • Colleges are offering more flexible online and hybrid courses, microcredentials and marketing to new demographics to increase enrollments. Nearly all (92%) of colleges are redesigning programs for student retention and revising existing programs to attract more students (90%). Greater numbers of two-year colleges than four-year colleges have already put in place or are planning to put in place measures to address enrollments:
    • 93% of two-year vs. 86% of four-year colleges marketing to new demographics
    • 92% of two-year vs. 74% of four-year colleges offering more blended (hybrid) courses
    • 90% of two-year vs 78% of four-year colleges offering online courses
    • 76% of two-year vs 54% of four-year colleges are adding microcredential offerings
  • Despite cost, the majority of students feel their education is worth what they’re paying and meeting their needs. Three quarters of two-year students and two-thirds of four-year students give a grade of "A" or "B" on how well their education is worth what they are paying. Meanwhile 86% of all students give an "A" or "B" grade for their education meeting their needs.                                                            

“While enrollments are certainly a substantial concern for administrators, there is a strong underlining of good news as students continue to see the value of higher education even if they want it delivered in new formats and on their terms,” said Dr. Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and Director of Bay View Analytics.  

“It is not a surprise that students are worried about rising costs of college and with the inflation that is driving all costs up,” said ACCT President and CEO Jee Hang Lee. “The survey demonstrates that a strong majority of community college students feel their educations are worth their investments and that their colleges value them. Community colleges are tailor made for helping students with limited resources thrive during challenging economic times. These survey findings help college leaders to make the best decisions for their institutions’ students. We look forward to sharing these survey results with our members, and to continuing to gain insights through future surveys.”

"HERDI's network of community college leaders is well-represented in the survey results. It is no surprise to me that more than 70% of two-year administrators have plans already underway to meet student demand for more online and hybrid classes,” said Toni Cleveland, President and CEO of HERDI.

For complete survey results download the infographic or visit:

For more information on how Cengage is supporting institutions as they navigate the digital transition, please visit



The Digital Learning Pulse Survey: Student, Faculty, and Administrator Perspectives on Digital Learning was developed by Bay View Analytics in partnership with leading online learning organizations and underwritten by Cengage. It is based on responses collected between September 6 and September 29, 2022 from 2,358 students and 1,252 faculty and administrators from both two-year and four-year institutions.

About Bay View Analytics

Bay View Analytics is a statistical research firm with a focus on survey design, implementation, and analysis. Formerly known as the Babson Survey Research Group, the scope of Bay View Analytics’ consulting engagements includes scientific statistical analyses, clinical trial statistics, and survey designs for a range of topics, with a particular focus on online education. Bay View Analytics has been conducting research and publishing annual reports on the state of online education in U.S. higher education for thirteen years. Visit for more information.

About Cengage

Cengage, the U.S. Higher Education business of global education technology company Cengage Group, serves millions of instructors, learners and institutions. We deliver affordable, high-quality digital products and personalized support to power learning individually and at scale. Our customer-centered approach enables innovation, including Cengage Unlimited, the first and only all-access digital subscription for textbooks and course materials. Our textbooks, homework tools, and flagship online learning platforms, MindTap and WebAssign, help educators and students achieve their goals. Visit us at or find us on Facebook, Twitter and  LinkedIn.