As we enter a new decade the number of students enrolling in higher education continues to increase.
Since the spring of 2009 UVU has increased its number of students by just over 3,000, creating a current total of 26,322 students.
It appears the numbers will only continue to climb in the near future and there is concern about how the growth will affect universities in Utah.
“Students are enrolled but in many cases are not able to get the classes they want,” said University President Matthew Holland. “We lose several students each year that might have stayed if the classes they needed were available.”
As enrollment growth continues, the school will face the daunting task of maintaining a quality education for students while dealing with constant budget cuts. Utah’s colleges and universities were dealt a 17 percent budget cut in the 2009 legislative session and presently legislative leaders are considering making cuts at around 22 percent by July.
“This is the most severe budget cut for higher ed that I’ve ever seen,” said UVU Executive Director of Planning and Budgeting Linda Makin. “I’ve been doing this for 23 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Part of UVU’s mission as designated by the state is to be an open institution that gives the opportunity of higher education to those seeking it, a task made extremely difficult without necessary state funding.
Space has also become a major issue. The lack of space at UVU has often proved problematic, one remedy for this dilemma is the expansion of the science building which would create a significant amount of needed space.
Currently UVU is the second largest university in Utah with the smallest amount of square feet per student, at 121 sq. ft.
“Space is our largest constraint,” said Makin. “We are very efficient with our space but we’re maxing it out.”
In a struggling economy Utah schools are forced to operate under difficult circumstances. This means that tuition costs will undoubtedly go up to compensate for what has been lost. Resident students can expect tuition to rise anywhere from 6-10 percent in the next year.
“We are looking at ideas on enrollment management and aggressive fundraising to help generate revenue,” said President Holland, “but if we need to raise tuition we will.”