Three years after University of Idaho President Chuck Staben said his goal for the UI was a 50 percent increase in enrollment by 2024, a combination of ease of enrollment programs and growing student options have been introduced to help reach that mark.
The UI announced a 3.9 increase in the student body on Oct. 19, but the increase came after several years of declining enrollment. The 2014 academic year saw a drop of 2.9 percent and 2015 a decline of 1.6 percent. The 2016 boost brought enrollment numbers from 11,534 to 11,780 – a 2.1 percent increase – since Staben took the reins in 2014.
There remains a long way to go to reach the goal, but Andrew Kersten, dean of the UI college of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, said he anticipates new programs will begin to show themselves a help in boosting enrollment.
CLASS recently announced its all-online degree programs, introduced a year ago, are garnering so much interest the school has brought aboard two new academic advisors and six new faculty members to serve the increasing online student body.
“It’s going to make a huge impact on enrollment, especially over time,” Kersten said.
Kersten said the university will not be making the mistake of hiring instructors from around the country or the world to teach online class, like many other schools do. Kersten said when online students complete their degrees, their knowledge base will be identical to those of on-campus students, as they’ll share the same professors.
While Kersten said the university’s weekly updates regarding online programs have been promising, it will take time for the program to reach its full potential – and a lot of that comes from letting students know about the program and its merits.
As of July 10, more than 100 CLASS students were pursuing their degrees completely online, according to the college.
Degrees currently available include bachelor’s in general studies, history, psychology, sociology and criminology and master’s in public administration and psychology.
UI colleges of architecture, engineering, education, earth and environmental studies and science also offer master’s degrees in multiple areas.
Another new development for the UI comes in the form of a degree program in film and television studies. Faculty member Russell Meeuf said it was created in response to “a huge increase in demand” for professional video content.
Although the first year of the major’s availability won’t begin until fall semester, Meeuf said it looks like it, too, will be in demand.
“We’re getting a lot of attention from students,” he said.
While all of the logistics around creating a new major are not yet in a row, the first required class is set to begin this fall.
According to a press release from the UI, a study by Moscow-based EMSI revealed an anticipated 12 percent job increase in related fields – like audio and video equipment technicians, video editors, camera operators and photographers – by 2025. That includes a 14 percent increase in Idaho, Kersten said.
The UI will be the only institution in Idaho offering a bachelor’s degree in the area of television and film, making it unnecessary for Idaho students interested in the degree to seek an out-of-state institution, Meeuf said.
The university also announced July 17 it had expanded the first and second years of its Bachelor of Science architecture degree to Boise.
Mark Adams, dean of the UI College of Law, announced in March the longtime goal of offering a full law degree in both Moscow and Boise would come to fruition beginning this fall, with an estimated 120 first-year law students expected to begin their studies this month in Moscow and Boise.
“We expect to have 60 students at Boise and approximately the same number in Moscow next year,” Adams said upon the initial announcement. “There’s a really strong demand for both locations.”
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