MISSOULA – After completing its fall census, the University of Montana counts 10,962 students enrolled for autumn semester. The official count is taken after completion of the 15th instructional day.
As predicted by UM officials, enrollment is down across the institution, which includes student enrollment at Missoula College, Bitterroot College and the central mountain campus.
“We had anticipated fewer students, given the number of graduates last spring and over the summer, as well as seeing some troubling early indicators in the spring around the total number of applications,” said Cathy Cole, UM’s new vice president for enrollment and strategic communications.
The fall count of 10,962 students reflects a decline of 7.6 percent from last fall’s 11,865 student enrollment.
There were some positive gains in some populations on campus. The Graduate School continues to grow, with enrollment up 4.6 percent. Enrollment at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law is up 3.7 percent. One of the biggest gains is in the number of international students at UM, which is up 14.2 percent, or 89 students. The increase brings the total number of international students at UM to 717.
Cole said a big factor in the 21 percent reduction in Missoula College students – and accounting for roughly 200 of the 903 fewer students counted in the census – is dual enrollment students.
“Last fall, we counted 280 dual enrollment students in the fall census,” she said. “This year it’s 80, because moving forward those students will generally be counted for the spring semester. It’s a change from previous years, and that alone accounts for a 200-student difference in the fall enrollment number.”
Cole believes that the new “One, Two, Free” statewide initiative providing two free courses for high school students will bring an even greater number of participants to the program.
Since arriving on campus in July, Cole has worked to expand UM’s recruiting efforts and improve the messaging around what the campus has to offer for students.
“We have incredible programs, impressive national rankings and an experience for students that is remarkable,” said Cole. “We need to do a better job on recruiting around those strengths, and we will.”
Despite UM’s current enrollment challenges, Cole reminds the UM team that it is an honor to serve each and every student. “We have the incredible privilege of serving close to 11,000 students at the University of Montana. Those students’ lives will be transformed through their UM education and the experiences they will have here throughout their academic career. That’s what keeps me excited to be in higher education and working to bring more students to our great university.”