Student enrollment sees decline since 2018

Annika Schmidt 

[email protected] 

     National trends for college enrollment are being reflected in enrollment data at UCCS. 

     UCCS total student enrollment is experiencing a decline after peaking in the Fall 2018 semester; 12,574 students were enrolled at UCCS as of the fall census date that year. There are 11,385 students enrolled for the Fall 2021 semester, according to UCCS’ institutional research data

     The pandemic has contributed to this trend, but there are other factors involved. 

     According to Matthew Cox, senior executive director for enrollment management, the enrollment peak three years ago was partially due to three large freshman classes joining the university consecutively leading up to 2018.  

     “We then experienced a dip in new first-year and transfer students in fall 2019 followed by the COVID-impacted decline in fall 2020,” Cox wrote in an email. “We have rebounded nicely with approximately 270 more new students enrolling this fall than in fall ’20.” 

UCCS enrollment chart. Image courtesy of Institutional Research.

     According to an update provided by Chancellor Venkat Reddy at a student government senate meeting on Sept. 16, the university has also increased the number of out-of-state and transfer students, in addition to first-year students, at the start of this school year.  

     There has also been a decrease in the number of sophomores this semester after their unconventional first year in higher education, according to Reddy. 

     After a largely remote school year, enrollment in remote classes is higher than before COVID-19 closures. “We still have more students taking remote courses now than prior to the pandemic because more courses sections are being offered in a mix of formats such as online, remote, hybrid/hyflex, but fewer are in remote courses now than last fall,” Cox said. 

     According to Cox, efforts to increase student enrollment are ongoing. “We talk about enrollment here in two ways: first, every additional student we enroll is one more opportunity we have to help create a better life — that’s the true reason for the work we do on this campus,” he said. 

     “The second is in support of that, and is that enrollment creates revenue needed to fund the budget which is needed to carry out our educational mission,” Cox said. “This is why enrollment is so crucial to the mission of the university.” 

     UCCS receives some funding from the state of Colorado, but Colorado is nationally ranked one of the lowest states for higher education funding. According to an article published by The Colorado Sun last year, per-capita support for higher education was ranked 47th in 2017. 

     Therefore, tuition plays a substantial role in the budget of the university.  

     It is not yet clear how enrollment has impacted planning or spending for the 2021-2022 school year, but current enrollment numbers were foreseen. “We have succeeded in meeting our fall ’21 enrollment projection which was set in early 2021,” Cox said.