Utah bucks national trend of declining higher education enrollment
The first “snapshot” of college enrollments for the 2014-15 school year (fall semester, third week) shows that the number of students enrolled at Utah’s public colleges and universities held steady with a slight net increase. The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) enrollment for the Fall 2014 semester increased by 136 full-time equivalent students, for a net increase of one tenth of one percent from 2013. Four of the eight institutions saw increases between 1.85 and 3.39 percent, while the other four saw decreases ranging from 0.93 to 5.31 percent.
“Utah is bucking the national trend of decreasing enrollments, and overall our numbers continue to hold steady. Several USHE institutions are seeing a slight growth, while some, such as Salt Lake Community College, are seeing a decline. As a large part of their student body is enrolled part-time, we believe this decline is due to more people returning to full-time employment as the economy improves,” said Dave Buhler, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education. “We anticipate that the overall growth in the USHE system will continue to outpace nationwide trends, partly due to Utah’s young, large and growing population.”
Total budget-related FTE (“full-time equivalent”) approximates the number of students enrolled full-time (15 semester hours for undergraduate students; 10 semester hours for graduate students) each semester. That number totaled 106,816 in the fall of 2014, compared to 106,680 in the fall of 2013. Headcount includes all students enrolled at an institution.
Additionally, particularly at institutions with a community college mission, USHE serves several thousand students in non-traditional programs, which are not budget-related, do not receive any taxpayer support, and are not included in the third week totals. These include short-term training programs, distance education, and non-credit technical training. USHE institutions also serve over 27,000 high school students in concurrent enrollment. It is also important to note that some students enroll in programs that begin after the third-week enrollment census is taken. To provide a more complete picture of fall enrollments, final semester numbers will be released when available. Some institutions have a large number of part-time students, which accounts for the difference between their FTE and headcount. The following tables show budget-related FTE and total headcount. (Budget-related are enrollments that receive state funding.)