An estimated 180,000 students are now enrolled in Utah’s higher education system, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year, according to figures released by the Utah System of Higher Education on October 11, 2017.
Weber State University alone saw a 4.25 percent enrollment increase for the fall 2017-2018 school year, making it the fourth largest total enrollment among state institutions of higher education. Over the last decade, enrollment at Weber State has seen a 49 percent increase according to data from the Office of Institutional Research.
WSU now boasts a student body total of about 27,949 students, making this the highest enrollment total that Weber State has ever seen. This number also includes concurrent enrollment students, those who are still in high school taking college courses through Weber State.
Without the concurrent enrollment headcount, WSU had a less than 1 percent increase from the 2016-2017 school year.
Alison Hess, Weber State PR director, credits the increase in concurrent enrollment as being one of the main reasons for increased growth.
“It is robust and growing, and it’s exciting because those high school students are coming to us with credits already under their belt and they already have that feel for college courses, and their well on their way to getting a university education,” Hess said.
Weber is not the only institution of higher education in Utah that saw growth for the second year in a row. Every Utah institution saw an increase in their enrollment numbers except for Utah State University, which saw a 1.56 percent decline.
Melanie Heath, director of communications for Utah System of Higher Education, believes that the main contributing factors to the rise in enrollment numbers has to do with a growing youth population in the state.
“We are a young state, meaning we have more students that are college age and they are choosing to go to state colleges, whereas other states are seeing a decline in college enrollment,” Heath said. “We have a young and growing population.”
Utah Valley University has the largest total enrollment in the state with 37,282 students, followed by the University of Utah at 32,800.
Southern Utah University has the lowest enrollment of state universities with 205 less students than Dixie State University, which has the second lowest enrollment number. But Dixie had a 7.56 percent increase over the last year, the largest in the state.
Each year, Utah System of Higher Education releases data of projected growth for state institutions. Over the next decade, the USHE anticipates that 60,000 students will enroll.
“With that projected increase, it’s going to require that we have enough faculty, classroom space, technology, and that we’re able to serve all the students enrolled,” Heath said.
Although the increase in enrollment is great news for Weber, Hess said the university’s goal is to continue growing.
“We definitely have to be thoughtful about it, but we are hoping strongly that students will benefit and that their futures will be brighter if they can get a college education and degrees that Weber State can offer them, and their family, and their future,” Hess said.