University of Idaho President Chuck Staben has announced plans to increase enrollment on the Moscow campus from 11,000 to 15,000 students. He said the planned enrollment number is a tentative figure, and he will have to discuss the plans with a number of administrators before arriving on an official timeline.
“This is certainty a preliminary discussion on my part without having yet consulted fully with those who need to be consulted with on campus,” Staben said. “We have to have a lot more discussion on how we will do this, and what is practical.”
Staben said most enrollment change at a university takes a minimum of four to five years.
Staben said an enrollment boost would bring more revenue to UI, as approximately 50 percent of UI’s general education budget comes from student tuition and fees.
“That will allow the university to have the resources that it needs to do many of the things it wants to do,” Staben said.
He said an enrollment increase would also coincide with the Idaho State Board of Education’s goal of raising the number of Idaho citizens with a post-secondary degree from 36.1 percent to 60 percent by 2020.
Jeffery Dodge, interim vice president of enrollment management, said even though there is no time frame attached to the enrollment figure, UI is already taking assertive steps to raise enrollment numbers.
“It’s an aspirational preliminary goal, I will say though that the university is taking rather aggressive steps to get a handle on problems related to enrollment,” Dodge said.
He said UI has seen an increase in the number of admitted students over the past few years, yet enrollment numbers have stayed level.
“There has been sort of a disconnect between the number of students that we admit through the application process, and growth in the number of enrolled students,” Dodge said.
To close this gap, Dodge said the new enrollment strategies will focus on increasing communication to potential students, and providing them
with more information about UI academics and student life.
Staben said the university needs to be more effective in communicating with potential students, and emphasize the value UI can provide to students.
“One of the first things we need to do is look at our recruiting strategy, and ensure that people throughout Idaho and regionally understand what an excellent value and what excellent quality the university offers,” Staben said.
Dodge said UI does a good job of setting up events for committed students, but needs to increase the amount of communication it has with students after they are admitted.
“We have those event specific communications, but after we have admitted you, we don’t continue to tell you why you should choose the university,” Dodge said.
UI enrollment management started an email campaign last year that sent out general and specialized emails to prospective students, Dodge said. He said UI also started contacting the parents of admitted students in an effort to show them the benefits of having their student attend UI.
In an effort to increase enrollment next year, Dodge said UI accepted and reviewed the applications of 700 to 800 prospective students, even though they failed to pay the application fee. He said the admitted students will have the unpaid application fee deferred to the fall when they pay tuition.
Staben said UI will need to expand residence hall space and increase the number of course sections to accommodate an additional 4,000 students on campus over the next several years. He said there will be many factors to take into account with additional students on campus.
“There are a lot of consequences to enrollment growth that have to be planned,” Staben said.
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