Making the Academy Market-Smart

Embedding enrollment priorities into academic decision making

This study shares 13 practices to hard-wire the consideration of enrollment trends and institution-wide priorities into academic decision-making.

Making the Academy Market Smart


To ensure academic programs maintain their relevance and enrollment, institutions must consider market demand when assessing performance, holding academic programs accountable for serving the academic and career needs of today's prospective students. Despite its importance, few institutions prioritize enrollment performance in academic program planning.

This study details proven-effective approaches for embedding enrollment trends and institution-wide priorities into academic decision-making—elevating enrollment management as a key player in academic program planning, review, and new program launch processes. The practices are oriented around the following objectives.

Grounding program targets in market realities

As students prioritize career concerns in choosing institutions and majors, universities struggle to balance sometimes dramatic shifts in enrollment across programs. Without actionable data on unused capacity and shifting student preferences, academic leaders fail to allocate resources toward growth. Align academic program planning to institutional priorities by providing academic leaders with actionable program-level enrollment and capacity data.

Harnessing the voice of the market to drive enrollment growth

Under- and over-enrolled programs tend to receive a disproportionate share of resources, diverting resources from mid-performing programs despite their having the largest growth potential. Meet enrollment goals by strategically managing growth across the academic program portfolio, engaging academic leaders in surfacing programs with the greatest market opportunity.

Driving new programs to achieve enrollment gains

Most new program design and approval processes fail to consider regional enrollment trends and student preferences, resulting in programs that are misaligned with institutional priorities. Harness faculty-led innovation for enrollment gains by integrating enrollment management's perspective into new program launch—evaluating the revenue, enrollment, and marketing implications of proposed programs before they are stamped for approval.

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