3 Utah universities break enrollment records, new data shows

Overall, 198,432 students are attending college in Utah, a 1.8% increase from last year.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Utah Valley University in Orem, shown in 2019. UVU is one of three Utah universities that broke overall fall enrollment records this year, according to newly released data from the Utah System of Higher Education.

Total enrollment at Utah’s public colleges and universities increased slightly compared to last year, data released Tuesday shows, with Utah Valley University, Weber State University and Southern Utah University announcing that each broke previous overall enrollment records.

The only college to see a drop in overall enrollment was Snow College, at 8.2%, down from 5,997 to 5,506 students, the newly released annual fall enrollment data shows. Just two years ago, the school — the smallest public college in the state — had celebrated an enrollment of 6,000 for the first time.

Salt Lake Community College also broke a three-year streak of enrollment drops, and gained 416 students, a 1.6% bump from last fall, according to the Utah System of Higher Education data. Overall, student enrollment is now at 26,764, down more than 2,700 students from a peak of 29,517 in 2019, the last time the school previously saw growth.

Statewide, USHE reported a total head count of 198,432 students, a 1.8% increase from last year. During the pandemic in 2020, the system lost 330 students, its first decline in at least a decade.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah Valley University

UVU surpassed 44,000 students, an all-time high and a 3.6% increase from last fall. The historic fall count follows one of the university’s largest graduating classes of 8,517 in spring 2023, according to a UVU news release.

“Not only are we attracting new students, we are also retaining our existing students at a higher rate,” UVU President Astrid Tuminez said in a news release.

UVU also reported that now, over one-third of its students are “first generation,” meaning they mark the first in their family to attend college.

The university’s Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian student population also increased by 26% and its Hispanic/Latino also saw an increase of 8% since last year, according to the university’s news release.

Weber State University

(Benjamin Zack | Weber State University) A moose wades in the pond at Weber State University on Sept. 22, 2021. Weber State is one of three Utah universities that broke overall fall enrollment records this year, according to newly released data from the Utah System of Higher Education.

Weber State this year exceeded 30,000 students, a new record and an 2.1% increase over last fall, according to USHE data.

Students who identify as Hispanic or Latino now make up 13% of the full-time undergraduate student body — a record high for that demographic at Weber State, according to the news release.

The increase moves the university closer its goal of becoming an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution, a designation given when 15% of students identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the news release.

Reaching “emerging” status would mark a milestone toward becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a federal designation given to a university or college that enrolls at least 25% Hispanic/Latino students, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

While the “emerging” status is not federally recognized, it is a category created by Excelencia in Education — a nonprofit that supports Latino/Hispanic student achievement — to track organizations that are close to becoming an HSI, according to Excelencia’s website. Once institutions become HSI-designated, they are eligible to receive additional federal funding.

Weber State adopted its emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution goal in its strategic plan in spring 2021, according to its website.

“We’re intentionally streamlining services and resources to provide access to the Hispanic and Latino population in our region, and that’s going to benefit every student and will have positive impacts on Utah’s economic development,” said Yudi Lewis, executive director of HSI Initiatives, in a news release “Reaching that 15% will better reflect Utah’s Hispanic and Latino population, which is also 15% .”

Southern Utah University

SUU’s enrollment now exceeds 15,000 students — a new record for the university and a 4.9% increase from last year, according to an SUU news release.

“We are excited for this steady growth and will continue to elevate SUU’s profile as a high quality public university in the state,” said SUU President Mindy Benson in a news release.

SUU officials attributed the growth to a 26% enrollment increase in the university’s online programs.

University of Utah

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The University of Utah campus on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. The unversity's student body now sits at 35,310, an increase of more than 500 students since last fall, according to Utah System of Higher Education data.

For the fourth year in a row, the number of first-year U. students broke a record, with 5,560 students scheduled to graduate in 2027, according to a university news release.

The student body now sits at 35,310, an increase of more than 500 students since last fall.

“As the University of Utah continues to make efforts to become a top 10 public institution, it only makes sense that our student body would continue to grow,” said Steve Robinson, the university’s senior associate vice president for enrollment management. “The U. offers a quality, affordable education that students across Utah, and across the nation and the world, want to experience.”

The state hasn’t released the number of students enrolled in technical colleges yet — that is expected later this month. Once the data is released, it will offer a “full look at systemwide enrollment,” according a USHE news release.

Last year, there were just over 20,000 students in Utah’s technical schools, putting systemwide enrollment at more than 215,000, according to USHE data.