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University of Montana again seeing fewer students

Posted at 6:39 PM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 20:39:17-04

MISSOULA – The University of Montana is reporting that there are fewer students on campus this semester.

The official count released on Friday shows 10,962 students enrolled for autumn semester. However, the drop did not come as a surprise to UM officials.

They expected to see a drop in enrollment across the institution, which includes Missoula College, Bitterroot College and main Missoula campus, according to a new release.

“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 was some growth seen in the report as the enrollment at the Graduate School was up 4.6 percent, according to a news release. Additionally, enrollment at the 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.”

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.”