More students attending Utah technical colleges, boosting overall higher ed count

Adult enrollment grew, while high school dual enrollment dipped slightly.

Utah technical colleges saw an almost 5% increase in overall student enrollment in the first quarter of the 2024 fiscal year, with some schools seeing significant jumps, the Utah System of Higher Education announced this week.

Most gains came from adult enrollment, at an increase of 8.6%, while high school dual enrollment saw a slight decrease of 2.2%, a news release states.

Technical colleges currently sit at 20,455 students compared to 19,515 the same time last year — a boost of more than 900.

Add that to the 198,432 students enrolled at public degree-granting institutions announced last month, and total Utah higher education enrollment currently sits at 218,887 students systemwide.

“We are excited,” USHE interim commissioner Geoffrey Landward said of the tally, adding in a statement that each enrolled student “has taken a major step to invest in their future.”

Dixie Technical College

Dixie Technical College in St. George saw the biggest percent change of all Utah technical colleges, with a 21.7% increase, or around 262 students.

Dixie Tech president Jordan Rushton applauded the bump in students.

“As each student commits to the learning and growth that comes through a hands-on technical education, we are here to grow with them,” Rushton said in a statement. “Our mission is to train students to master essential skills they will take directly to the workforce, and our growth over the past year shows that students recognize the value of the many technical professions available right here in Washington County.”

Davis Technical College

Davis Technical College also saw a significant increase in students, with an 8.2% boost, or 313 students.

The uptick marked the largest bump in new students out of all Utah technical colleges, which the school noted in a news release Tuesday. At the end of the 2023 fiscal year (June), the school had 6,645 students enrolled. The first quarter numbers indicate the school is “on track” to exceed 7,000 students in the 2024 fiscal year, the release adds.

“It is very exciting to see our enrollment continue to grow,” Davis Tech President Darin Brush said in a statement. “This is a testament to the hard work and quality of our faculty and staff, who make Davis Technical College a magnet institution.”

In addition to USHE’s numbers, the school noted that 128 students were enrolled in nine programs at the Utah Department of Corrections.

Southwest Technical College

The only college that saw a dip over 10% was Southwest Technical College in Cedar City, losing 180 students — or around 13%.

Of those students, 112 were dually enrolled high schoolers. Southwest Tech president Brennan Wood attributed the dip to a restructuring of a few programs, like auto-welding and automation technology.

Previously, dually enrolled high schoolers would attend one class period a day at the college throughout their entire school year. This year, high schoolers in some programs now spend two class periods a day at the college, but only for one semester.

That limits the number of high school students who can sign up for a class per semester, Wood said, though there will be a new crop of students coming in next semester.

“We expected this year, because we made that change, to have a headcount decrease at the beginning of the year,” he said. “But we will make up for the vast majority of that, if not all of it, when January hits.”

Other technical colleges

The following enrollment changes were also documented:

  • Bridgerland Technical College: 4% increase (+113 students)

  • Mountainland Technical College: 8.4% increase (+304 students)

  • Ogden-Weber Technical College: 1.71% increase (+69 students)

  • Tooele Technical College: 3.4% decrease (-28 students)

  • Uintah Basin Technical College: 4.9% increase (+87 students)

In May, Gov. Spencer Cox nominated 10 business and tech executives to lead USHE’s new board, aiming to set goals for and evaluate the performances of not just Utah’s public colleges and universities, but also its technical colleges.

“From merging technical colleges and degree-granting schools into the same governance structure to keeping tuition low, members of the board have served Utahns well and helped create a path for all future post-secondary students in Utah,” Cox said in a news release at the time.