Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]
UVU is now the largest public institution of higher learning, in terms of enrollment, in the state, according to the third week headcount report released by the Utah System of Higher Education.
Enrollment is up 6 percent over 2014 with 33,211 students. This is the highest the number has been since 2011, when UVU enrollment peaked at 33,395.
In Oct. 2012, the LDS church announced that they were lowering the age at which young adults can serve a mission to 18 for men and 19 for women. This caused enrollment to drop across the state for students in the age range.
Most of this year’s growth was in the 18-24 year-old age range, specifically in enrollment for 20 year-old males and 21 year-old females, which would suggest that those students may be returning from missions.
Enrollment in the state overall increased this year by 2 percent. UVU’s 6 percent increase is the second highest next to Snow College.
UVU’s open enrollment policy may account for the larger percentage since UVU accepts more students where other schools are able to cap admissions.
According to Linda Makin, vice president for planning, budget and human resources, returning missionaries are only part of the story. She said UVU is benefiting from better high school recruitment and higher student retention.
“Our largest growth was actually in continuing students,” Makin said. “That’s a really positive sign toward graduation and completion.”
Since the school became a university in 2008, it has had some of the lowest graduation rates in the state. In 2014, the total graduation rate of students who completed degrees within six years was 31 percent.
Since the dropout in Utah in 2014 was an estimated 15 percent, roughly 54 percent of students are taking longer than six years to graduate, bolstering the enrollment numbers.
UVU has a unique ratio of full-time students to part-time students with 52 percent of students counted as full-time enrollment and 48 percent of students who are part-time, lengthening the time it takes to earn a degree.
At least 6,700 of those students are concurrent enrollment, most of whom are part-time.
“The most exciting thing is not that we’re the largest. It’s that we’re now ready to be the largest,” Holland said.
Even though only roughly a third of students graduate within six years, that number is up from 18 percent in 2009, when Holland became president.
Enrollment at UVU is projected to increase to more than 43,000 students in the next five years.
Holland said in 2011 the school was barely keeping up with growth but the lull in enrollment coupled with the new Classroom Building and more funding puts the school in a better position to deal with more growth.