U of M enrollment at its lowest since 2009

U of M enrollment at its lowest since 2009

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Enrollment at the University of Memphis is at its lowest since 2009.

Khaliah Bass is a junior at the University of Memphis. She loves her school, but is surprised by its steady d rop in enrollment.

"Today you have to have some type of diploma or degree to get a job," Bass said. "So the fact that a lot of people are kind of ignoring that is kind of surprising."

This semester's student enrollment was 19,433. That's the lowest since Spring of 2009.

Graduate student Christina Ralston said the lower numbers could be due to a number of different factors.

"I know you go to school online now. A lot of people would rather stay home or they have family to take care of," Ralston said.

It also could be due to the Tennessee Promise. The scholarship allows recent high school graduates to go to Tennessee Community Colleges for free.

Whatever the reason is, Bass said it's bad for the city of Memphis because of the lower number of college educated people. She does not think it is necessarily a negative for U of M's current students.

"Smaller class sizes mean more teacher-student interaction," Bass said.

The U of M released the following statement regarding the lower enrollment numbers:

Although our spring enrollment is lower than originally anticipated, we traditionally contract about 3% from fall to spring semester due to normal student attrition and fall graduation. Even with the lower numbers, our contraction this spring was in the range of 2% and better than anticipated and budgeted, as we budget for the 3% contraction each year. As a result, there are no budget implications given the improvement in retention this year. It is also important to recognize that our graduation numbers have continued to grow, which when coupled with a smaller than expected freshman class this past year, also contributed to the lower numbers. 

We have an aggressive plan to grow the University, with a goal of 10% over the next 5 years. This year's admission numbers have grown to more than 11,000, an 80% increase from the previous year. While we are optimistic about next year's freshman class, we are dedicated to translating increased admission to increases in the number of students enrolled.  

Our plans to grow do not rely solely on new freshmen enrollment. There are additional efforts to assist students with the transition to the University, including students who are currently receiving the TN Promise who might later choose to attend the UofM. 

The University of Memphis has also focused its attention on student retention and graduation rates.  We have launched efforts to help students stay on track to graduate on time. For example, our summer offerings can be used to help reduce long-term costs and speed up graduation for students. There is no single solution that can grow enrollment universally; however, we are confident that we have the right solutions to help our students satisfy their dreams of graduation.

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