Enrollment numbers fall short
University of Idaho Fall 2012 enrollment numbers released Oct. 18 showed little growth.
Freshmen enrollment is at 1,633, compared to 1,631 in Fall 2011. Overall enrollment is 12,493, up from 12,313 in the previous year. However, the method of measuring enrollment has been altered in accordance with the Idaho State Board of Education’s new reporting guidelines. President M. Duane Nellis said in an email if the reporting methods had been the same as last year, total enrollment would be 13,081.
UI Media Relations said UI Provost of Academic Affairs Doug Baker was not available for comment on enrollment numbers.
Steve Neiheisel, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said the state board’s change established guidelines for the university to follow when reporting enrollment numbers.
“Prior to the change the board made Oct. 15 there were not any former guidelines, so there was some flexibility,” Neiheisel said.
He said the board clarified who should be in the count. The simplest example, he said, was to look at study abroad students.
“Study abroad students are kept in the books and active, but they really aren’t here so (they are) not counted,” Neiheisel said.
Marilyn Whitney, ISBE communications officer, said these changes in reporting occurred for several reasons.
“These are really just snapshot days. What the snapshot does is it gives us a sense of the trend of enrollment,” Whitney said.
Whitney said the reasons for change have to do with other reporting requirements.
She said the new Oct. 15 date is in line with the date when the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System collects information — a government agency that collects required enrollment numbers nationwide.
“It allows for consistency in reporting,” Whitney said. “It also allows us to capture late start students and dual enrollment students.”
The later reporting date may have allowed for a more accurate snapshot, but the numbers show UI is not on track to reach Nellis’ declared enrollment goal of 16,000 students in 2020.
“Although there are some bright spots in these numbers, this enrollment growth is not where we need it to be,” Nellis said in an email to UI faculty and staff. “We did not achieve our goals in several areas and there is much work to do.”
The growth in the freshman class was .1 percent, with total enrollment growing 1.4 percent. To reach Nellis’ goal, university enrollment needs to increase by 750 students for the next four years — a little more than four times the amount of growth seen this year.
Neiheisel said UI does need to gain more freshmen.
“It’s the president’s vision and I’m not one to question that,” Neiheisel said. “So I think we need to keep working in that direction.”
He said UI has expanded enrollment efforts, which include a recruiter in California and one in southern Idaho, specifically on the College of Southern Idaho campus. He said they have to increase their efforts, and with the new initiatives plan to see an increase in enrollment next year.
Neiheisel said another issue causing slow enrollment growth has been the changes in financial aid, specifically the elimination of the Western Undergraduate Exchange program.
He said it has taken some time for prospective students to understand the changes.
“It helped us, but not enrollment numbers,” Neiheisel said.
Katy Sword can be reached at email@example.com