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Frequently Asked Questions

1.) What is Institutional Research?

The Institutional Research (IR) office is responsible for data collection and reporting, research activities, and special studies that 1) provide information for improvement of college programs and services, and 2) ensure compliance with state and federal reporting requirements.


IR work focuses on college/campus enrollment trends; student demographics, persistence and degree completion; follow-up related student outcomes, employment, transfer and satisfaction; and measures of institutional effectiveness.


IR staff provide information to support college program review, assessment and planning processes; support proposal development and project evaluation for outside funding; conduct studies related to development of new instructional programs and evaluation of college services; and respond to many ad hoc requests for information from university staff and the public.

2.) Enrollment - What is it?

At it most basic, this is the number of seats taken (registrations) in a class or program.  Unless we are talking about a single class section, this represents a duplicate count of students-since many students register for more than one class each term.


Headcount Enrollment - Total of full- and part- time students.

There are three basic ways to measure enrollment at SCSU, and we frequently use the term enrollment when referring to each of the following:


FTE (full time equivalent) Student Enrollment

  • FTE is based on the number of contact hours generated by student enrollment during a term.
  •  FTE is calculated as fifteen (15) credit hours per semester for an undergraduate student, twelve (12) credit hours per semester for a graduate level 1 (master, specialist's) student, and nine (9) credit hours per semester for a graduate 2 (doctoral) students.

Student FTE = Student Credit Hours / 15 Undergraduate

                        Student Credit Hours/12   (Master's, Specialist's)

                        Student Credit Hours/9  (Doctoral)

Unduplicated Headcount

  • This represent the number students enrolled. To determine the annual unduplicated headcount for the University, or a program, a student is counted only once during anacademic year (summer term through spring term) regardless of how many terms the student registers for or how many different classes the student takes during that time period.

3.) FTE: Why Do We Use It?

FTE provides a common basis for talking about enrollment in all programs and enables us to compare enrollment with other higher education institutions.


In South Carolina, FTE serves as the basis for college funding.

  • FTE impacts the funding formula one full year later.

Note: This is only a partial picture of how college funding is calculated since the funding formula is complicated and considers other factors in addition to FTE.

4.) FTE: How Do We Use It?

1. To monitor enrollment trends for programs, departments, and school.

  • Annual information related to FTE is reported in the SCSU Fact Book.
  • During the term, current FTE figures are compared on a periodic basis with figures from the prior year.  This information is used to anticipate whether the University will realize projected tuition revenue for the current year and to gauge the impact of enrollment on projected state reimbursement in future years.
  • At the beginning of each term, instructional administrators use FTE in combination with enrollment (seat taken) to determine where to add or cancel class sections.

2. To establish ratios based on student FTE and faculty FTE for each instructional program for each instructional program.

  • The ratios are used as a management tool to monitor progress toward campus enrollment targets.

5.) What is the CIP?

CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs): is a taxonomic coding scheme of educational instructional program data of all levels and types. The CIP is intended to reflect the manner in which instructional program data are organized, collected and reported, using categories that can capture the vast majority of reportable program completion activity.


The Purposes and Uses of the CIP


The CIP is intended to establish standard terminology to improve the communication and exchange of information on instructional programs and to standardize record keeping.  Among the intended users of the CIP system, besides the federal government, are state governments, local governments, educational institutions, education research organizations, accrediting agencies, professional associations, and individual researchers.


CIP is designed to: 1) assist in collecting, verifying, interpreting and reporting instructional program data; 2) aid in designing instructional program data collection instruments; 3) assist in educational planning, resource allocation and review through the use of standardized instructional program data categories; and, 4) aid those responsible for responding to instructional program data requests.