Strategic Enrolment Mis-Management

What is Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM), other than a popular buzz-word in higher education? As almost always, Wikipedia seems to capture the essence here. The article is very short, so I’ll hope to expand on portions of it, especially as I see the role of the Registrar in making Enrolment Management strategic.

At the PACRAO conference in Calgary in November, I noted the recent trend of adding additional titles to the role of Registrar, such as Vice President of Strategic Enrolment Management. I argued that this is superfluous and unnecessary; it’s a little like adding the title, “Father” to your dad. It is what we do! But perhaps institutions feel the need to do so because too many registrars have been deadbeat dads and neglected their responsibility as strategic thinkers and enrolment managers. Not you, of course, especially not if you’re a regular reader of this blog. And if you’re one of those with the expanded title, I hope you at least get a better salary (and bigger, shinier, business cards). You deserve it after I’ve poked fun at you 🙂

I mean, seriously, what information in the Wikipedia list is not within our grasp in the Registrar’s Office? I see only two or potentially three points that we might not have within our portfolios: career counseling, and methods of program delivery are usually in other departments. You might not have curricular and program development in your office but I hope you’re included in the process; and you might not have academic advising under your portfolio but you likely provide 90% of the info that is used to do that.

This much I have learned about universities and colleges: they are full of very responsible and committed people. This much I have observed about registrars: we’re very committed to following the rules and doing what our bosses tell us, but we are sometimes guilty of thinking that these are all we’re responsible for.  The next time someone in your institution says, “We need an office of Strategic Enrolment Management at this university” make sure you stand up and say, “We already have one!” Then show them the big “S” on your shirt (for Super-Registrar).

And then tell your boss you need to be paid more. Let me know how that goes…

Over the next while we (that means you and I) will be looking at the various components and arguments for/against SEM, but especially how the Registrar can thrive, can add value, and not have someone else get the title (and salary) of VP for SEM. Join the conversation. Comment and dialogue. Help us all get better at what we do.


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