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Enrollment up at all but one of Utah’s public colleges

First Published      Last Updated Oct 12 2016 10:34 pm


Growth » Officials at USU, which has lost about 500 students, say the drop is caused by decrease in the school’s online program.

Utah's public colleges and universities enrolled an additional 4,739 students this year, an increase of 2.78 percent compared with the total head count of 2015.

The new enrollment numbers, released Wednesday by the Utah System of Higher Education, show growth at nearly all of Utah's eight institutions of higher education, with the sole exception of Utah State University.

Enrollment at USU fell 1.76 percent, or roughly 500 students, compared with last year, which coincided with a 2 percent dip in the number of full-time students at the school, which includes USU-Eastern in Price.

John Mortensen, USU's assistant vice president for enrollment services, said enrollment is steady at the school's Logan and regional campuses, but it has fallen for USU's online programs, particularly among out-of-state students.




USU's student body grew significantly last year, Mortensen said, and the enrollment appears to be leveling off this fall.

"Last year we had a huge surge, especially in freshman," he said. "I see this year as our new base moving forward."

In a prepared statement, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education Dave Buhler said the state's colleges and universities are working hard to match continued enrollment growth with services and support for students.

"As we serve a growing number of students — we anticipate adding 52,000 students in the next decade — it will be crucial to receive legislative funding to keep higher education accessible and affordable for all Utahns," Buhler said.

Orem's Utah Valley University retained its status as the state's largest school with 34,978 students, a 5.32 percent jump from last year.

In a prepared statement, UVU President Matthew Holland said the enrollment growth is a validation of the school's hard work since its founding 75 years ago.

"Few institutions have evolved like UVU has, particularly in such a relatively brief span," Holland said. "This region has asked UVU to offer more with each passing generation to meet the needs of both a growing populace and economy, and it has always delivered and will continue to deliver."

The University of Utah, the state's flagship campus, saw a total head count of 32,061 students. It is Utah's largest school based on full-time students, with an enrollment of 27,439 compared with UVU's 23,706.

During a meeting of the University of Utah board of trustees Tuesday, Associate Vice President Mary Parker said the U.'s current freshman class, at 3,612 students, is the largest in the school's history.

Incoming freshmen at the U. also averaged a 25.11 on the ACT exam, Parker said, and a high school GPA of 3.61.

"We're really excited about that," Parker said. "As we think about recruiting the students here to the university, our Honors College is an instrumental partner."

Dixie State University saw the largest percentage growth, climbing 5.76 percent to 8,993 students and 7.38 percent in its full-time-equivalent enrollment.

Snow College remains the state's smallest higher-education institution with 5,350 students, a 4.68 percent increase over last year.

bwood@sltrib.com

Twitter: @bjaminwood

 

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