University enrollment declines

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As anticipated, after five years of steady enrollment increases at St. Cloud State University, the overall number of students decreased this fall by 5.9 percent to a total enrollment of 17,231, according to 30-day numbers.

“This is not an unexpected reduction although the extent of the reduction was somewhat surprising,” said Devinder Maholtra, provost and vice president for academic affairs at St. Cloud State University. “We anticipated shifts in enrollment patterns as we incorporated the changes that are moving the university from where we are to where we want to be. This also reflects economic and demographic shifts that are occurring on campus and in the region.”

In addition, the number of students taking liberal arts courses at neighboring St. Cloud Technical & Community College (SCTCC) grew 20 percent from a year ago. The nearly 1,300 liberal arts students — both full-time and part-time — currently represent about one-third of the SCTCC’s student population. Many of those students eventually will transfer to St. Cloud State to finish their four-year-degree programs, Maholtra said.

“As a partner with SCTCC, we anticipate their growth in liberal arts studies will positively impact. St. Cloud State’s enrollment in the future,” he said.

The enrollment decrease in part also is a result of the elimination of 32 academic programs at the university from a year ago which was precipitated by strategic planning efforts and state-mandated budget cuts.

“This has been a year of transition, and we are seeing anticipated enrollment declines as well as some positive changes in enrollment of segments of our student population,” Malhotra said, pointing to the increase in enrollment of honors students (17 percent) and students of color (5.2 percent).

 “Building a diverse population of students committed to learning as well as closing achievement gaps among students is essential to achieving our mission,” Malhotra said.

 “The market is changing,” Maholtra said. “It’s becoming more complex. We recognize that it’s not business as usual. We are paying close attention to the complexities of the changing market.

“Our goal is to increase our market share of potential students and our total base of potential students by looking at all markets, from non-traditional students to military veterans to new entering transfers.”

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