January 30, 2009 in Idaho

UI reports growth in enrollment

Joel Mills Lewiston Tribune
 

Spring enrollment is up 1 percent at the University of Idaho, the second straight semester of gains after five years of slipping student numbers.

Reporting after the 10th day of classes as required by its Board of Regents, the UI counted 11,192 students statewide, with 10,048 on the Moscow campus. The university posted a 1.3 percent gain last fall.

Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management Steve Neiheisel said increased spending on enrollment research and recruiting, coupled with new student services, accounts for the growth.

“From that standpoint, we’re moving in the right direction,” Neiheisel said.

For instance, the university has expanded recruitment at regional community colleges to convince students finishing two-year degrees to continue their education at the UI, he said.

“We’re consciously looking for those transfer students.”

He noted community colleges in Washington are setting enrollment records as some seek to wait out the recession working on a degree. And the university is targeting Idaho community colleges with a career fair for their students, he said.

College enrollments traditionally increase during tough times as people seek to better their economic position. But those increases typically hit colleges that offer one- or two-year degree programs, not four-year universities like the UI.

But Neiheisel said the university stands to benefit from a “ripple effect” as students finish associate or professional-technical degrees, and want to continue their education. He said those ripples can carry some all the way to graduate school.

California students are also targeted by UI recruiters. The state is facing huge budget deficits, and the University of California system is reducing new enrollment by 2,000 spots. The California State University system is cutting 10,000 spots.

Neiheisel said the people who might have enrolled in those schools can be considered prospective Vandals.

Early indications are the new upward trend for UI enrollment will continue, Neiheisel said. Undergraduate applications for next fall are up 12 percent over a year ago.

The UI has been trying to retain more students, especially those on the verge of failing out of school. The Division of Student Affairs has increased its work with students on academic probation to get them back on track with things like time management and career counseling, Neiheisel said.

A marketing campaign and an upgraded Web site also deserve some credit for stopping the enrollment slide, he said.


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