Recalibrating FTES calculations

FTES stands for Full-Time Equivalent Students. It is a shorthand method for measuring the overall productivity at a California State University and is therefore used as a basis for funding. Historically, FTES was determined simply as the total Student Credit Units (SCUs) divided by 15. Thus, for every 15 units being taken by students, 1 FTES was produced.

Starting with the 2006/07 year, the CSU has adopted a different weighting scheme to calculate FTES for master's seeking students. For this category of students, 12 units constitute 1 FTES to reflect the greater resources used to conduct instruction at the graduate level. Since there are several categories of post-baccalaureate students, it should be noted that the new differential applies only to master's seeking graduate students. For each student, all of the units taken, regardless of course level, count at the new basis of 12 units for 1 FTES. For example, a graduate student taking 6 units of upper division classes, and a 3-unit graduate class, will count as .75 FTES (9 divided by 12). An undergraduate student enrolled in the same classes would count as .60 FTES (9 divided by 15).

Several measurement and reporting issues arise due to this new weighting differential. The Chancellor's Office designated the differential to apply to graduate students without regard to the mix of courses they are taking. Masters seeking graduate students do take undergraduate courses as pre-requisites or for other reasons. From the student point of view, it is a simple matter to divide all graduate student SCU loads by 12 instead of 15. However, from the class enrollment point of view, calculations are more complex because many classes may contain a mix of undergraduate and graduate students. The fixed relationship between SCUs and FTES does not exist any more because we can no longer simply divide class section SCUs by 15 to get FTES.

These changes make FTES less precise than it once was for tracking changes in productivity. While SCUs are a direct measure of instruction, FTES are an artifact of the mix of students in a class and may change in ways that do not reflect any differences in the number of students being served by a particular course or subject area. For this reason, it is suggested to use SCUs for trend analysis or teaching productivity instead of FTES. The FTES figures are provided because FTES ultimately ties into campus and CSU budget targets.