As tuition is going up, enrollment at America’s higher education institutions is going down.
For the sixth year in a row, the number of people enrolled in colleges and universities is declining, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research. The study found that overall enrollment fell by 1 percent this past year, a drop just a hair less than the 1.4 percent drop from 2016 and the 1.7 percent drop from 2015.
Undergraduates seem to be driving the decline. In the Center’s 2017 study, overall enrollment of undergraduate students fell 1.4 percent.
“This suggests further declines to come overall in the years ahead, which will continue to present planning challenges for institutions and policymakers seeking to adapt to new economic and demographic realities,” said Doug Shapiro, the Center’s executive research director, in a statement.
But while the enrollment is falling nationwide, the University of Nevada, Reno, continues to buck the national trend.
During an ASUN Senate meeting from earlier this month, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services Melisa Choroszy gave revised internal estimates that peg UNR’s enrollment to hit 25,000 by 2025.
Choroszy said that the projected enrollment rate increases by a “modest 1-2 percent per year.”
That falls in line with the most recent enrollment trends at UNR. Total enrollment of students at the university grew by 1.4 percent between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. In terms of total students added, it amounts to an increase from 21,353 students in 2016 to 21,657 in 2017.
This vast growth of the number of students at the university is unexpected, as expected projections prior to this were only 20,000 students by the 2020 school year. The university surpassed this projection during the 2015-2016 academic year with a total enrollment of 20,898 students.
The increase of undergraduate students at the UNR provides a stark contrast to universities nationwide, as the university saw a 0.8 percent jump opposed to the nationwide fall of 1.4 percent.
Though while the number of Reno undergrads bucks the trend, the number of grad students seems to hew far closer to national averages. Nationally, graduate enrollment is up by 0.9 percent. While much lower than the university’s 4.8 percent increase, both populations are increasing.
According to Choroszy, the diverse program areas offered by the university may be the cause.
The university offers more than 145 degree programs. For comparison, other schools often offer far fewer. Stanford, for instance, only offers around 65 while the University of Arizona only offers a little over 100.
Choroszy also said that graduate enrollment was growing, possibly in correlation with the “diversification of program offerings such as Pearson online graduate programs.”
In fall 2017, the total graduate enrollment was 3,025 students. This was a 4.8 percent jump from Fall 2016 when the graduate total was only 2,887 students.
The university’s partnership with Pearson to create an online graduate degree program for a Master’s of Social Work launched in Fall 2016. As this program grew and gained credibility over the 2016-2017 school year, it is likely that this may be part of the cause for such a large jump in graduate enrollment at the university.
According to Choroszy, the university provides information on the past and projected enrollment. Choroszy says the office of institutional analysis gives plenty of data on the demographics and number of students at the university organized by year and advises those interested in the number of students enrolled to look at these resources on the university’s websites.
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.