MISSOULA — We've all been watching enrollment numbers at the University of Montana since they started dropping in 2011.
Amid all the challenges on college campuses this year, MTN News took a look at how things are shaking out this semester.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted every corner of campus at the University of Montana including enrollment.
Spring semester enrollment is down 7.3% since last year and in-state enrollment dropped 20.2%.
“But we’re achieving things, and we’re getting it done, and I think these numbers reflect that,” observed University of Montana Director of Communications Dave Kuntz.
He added that despite the drops, UM is focused on the positive, “we've also seen an increase in interest."
Across both UM campuses out-of-state student enrollment increased 35.7%.
Kuntz says he thinks that’s due, in part, to all UM has done to ensure safety, while keeping that college campus feel, such as building an ice skating rink on the Oval.
The most recent numbers also show that international student enrollment is up 200%. Additionally, on the main campus, Native American student enrollment is up 20.3%.
“It’s been really encouraging to see student population growth across the board, but especially in these two areas,” Kuntz told MTN News.
Kuntz also noted that new student numbers aren’t the only thing to pay attention to as retention rates are also important "keeping those students on campus and on track to graduate."
The retention rate is continuing to increase and currently stands at 88%. Kuntz also told MTN News that 2,000 students are on track to graduate.
“We think the University of Montana is the best place in the world to launch a career, to get a high-quality education. As a UM alum, I can speak to that directly, it’s the best decision I ever made,” Kuntz said.
“Each week, we feel like we’re getting closer and closer to the end of the pandemic, and a return to normal times. And I think that’s something that students are really looking forward to, hopefully as soon as next fall semester,” Kuntz concluded.
Kuntz also said that UM is continuing outreach efforts to high school students, and one thing he says students want is a normal college experience, such as in-person classes.