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USU-Eastern 11.8% enrollment drop ‘sobering’; numbers rise statewide

November 3rd, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By The Eagle Staff

PRICE—After several years of enrollment growth, Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah saw a drop in student numbers this fall. USU-Eastern’s 11.8 percent enrollment decline is in contrast to the upward trend  of Utah’s other public colleges and universities, which increased over 1,000 full-time equivalent students systemwide, or 1.17 percent, this semester.

Much of that enrollment decline came in USU-Eastern’s incoming freshman class, which dropped by half between fall 2010 and this year; the number of sophomores enrolled at the Price campus declined by 45.5 percent.

Six of Utah’s nine public colleges and universities grew in fall 2011. Dixie State College saw the largest percentage increase at 4.52 percent (273 students), followed by Utah Valley University at 3.65 percent (695 students) and Snow College, whose numbers went up 2.62 percent (83 students). Utah State University increased 2.48 percent (474 students), the University of Utah grew by 2.23 percent (573 students), and Weber State University ticked up 0.88 percent (121 students).

Besides USU-Eastern, campuses that lost students this fall included Salt Lake Community College, which declined by 4.29 percent (711 students), and Southern Utah University, which dropped 3.74 percent (233 students).

“After big gains in 2010, this year’s enrollment backslide was sobering,” said USU-Eastern Academic Vice Chancellor Greg Benson. “Eastern has been working with an enrollment management consulting firm since before the start of fall semester, and new marketing, recruitment, and retention initiatives are in the works on many fronts.”

This year, the former College of Eastern Utah became part of the USU statewide campus system.

According  to USU’s Office of Analysis, Assessment, and Accreditation, the USU-Eastern’s freshman class dropped 50 percent from 1,869 in 2010 to 944 in 2011; the number of sophomores declined 45.5 percent from 765 in 2010 to 348 in 2011. What helped the college’s overall enrollment numbers were the 153 students enrolled in junior-level classes and 64 students in senior-level classes, which were not available on the Price campus in 2010.

The AAA document described 814 students as unclassified in the enrollment numbers. Jan Young, USU-Eastern’s director of admissions and records, said these are “non-matriculated students—people not going for a degree, and concurrent enrollment students” still in high school.

Students who entered USU-Eastern as a first-time college student dropped 44 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 686 to 453 (233 students).

The enrollment bright spots were students continuing from the previous year, which increased from 1,005 to 1,142 (13.6 percent), and the 16 additional transfer students over last year.

There are 150 fewer women attending USU Eastern in 2011 and 90 fewer male students. The total minority enrollment at USU-Eastern dropped 13.7 percent in 2011 over the previous year, with native American Indian students down 58 (11.7 percent), Asian-Americans down 39 (54.9 percent), Hispanics down 3 (12 percent). There is one more Pacific Islander (+114.3 percent), and two or more races added 13 students.

USU-Eastern’s full-time enrollment numbers include the Price and San Juan campuses; overall, the Price campus lost 187 students (15 percent) and San Juan lost 38 (8.8 percent).

Aside from USU-Eastern, regional USU campuses all experienced enrollment growth except the Tooele/Wasatch branch, which dropped 1.6 percent. Brigham City jumped 111.4 percent, Southeastern Utah (Grand County) was up 134.5 percent, and Uinta Basin 113.1 percent.

“For the past few years, we have seen enrollment numbers grow, and that still appears to be the case,” said Utah Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg in a press release issued by the Utah Board of Regents. “We would have seen even greater growth this year if colleges had not been forced to limit course offerings due to space and faculty availability.

“To reach our ‘Big Goal’ to achieve 66 percent of Utah’s workforce with a post-secondary credential in the next decade, it is extremely important that enrollment numbers continue to grow each year,” Sederburg said.


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