Until the fall semester of 2012, UVU had been the largest and fastest growing state-run institution for higher education in Utah. With staunch new enrollment policies and an announcement about the lowered age for missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that has changed.
“This [decrease] is from students who have chosen to go on LDS missions due to the age requirement being lowered for males to 18 and females to 19,” said Michelle Taylor, associate vice president of student services and enrollment. “We anticipate that UVU will be down in enrollment for the next two to three years until the first big wave of missionaries returns home, fall 2015.”
Due to this decrease in enrollment, UVU is currently on a hiring chill, according to Taylor. The chill is expected to last until the enrollment numbers start to climb again. If the administration’s projections are correct, it will mean diminished growth in faculty and programs until the projected 2015 date.
The first drop in enrollment came last semester with the implementation of the new structured enrollment policy. According to this policy — now the standard for entrance at UVU — applicants age 23 and under must score at least a 19 on the ACT and have a 2.5 GPA. Students age 24 and older have to meet the minimum requirements on the Accuplacer entrance exam.
Students who may have been affected by the early-tuition deadline on Dec. 19 felt the effects of the new structured enrollment policies this semester. The deadline was followed by a purge of classes, which unwittingly purged the majority of the student body, removing students who had enrolled in classes but failed to pay tuition or have a payment plan in place.
The administration had planned for a drop in enrollment due to these changes in policy.
“We kind of knew this was coming,” President Matthew Holland said about the drop in enrollment due to the new structured enrollment policy.
The administration didn’t expect the announcement from the LDS church in October 2012 allowing missionaries to leave at a younger age. Now, according to administration, many young men are leaving shortly after graduating high school instead of enrolling in college courses.
These drops in enrollment are a blow to Utah’s Big Goal, a movement established in 2010 by the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Higher Education. The goal was to have 66 percent of Utahns — men and women ages 25-64 — hold a post-secondary degree or a certificate by 2020.
“Current levels of educational attainment are insufficient to meet projected workforce demands,” said a statement by the board in a press release concerning the Big Goal.
According to a 2010 census, only 43 percent of Utah’s adult population held a post-secondary degree. A report from Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce indicated that within the next ten years, 66 percent of jobs in Utah will require some form of postsecondary education.
If enrollment numbers do not increase until the projected 2015, five years will be left for the goal to be met and for Utah to meet the expected demands of the workplace.