ST. GEORGE — Enrollment is up. That’s the word from the Utah System of Higher Education concerning both Southern Utah and Utah Tech universities.
With a 5.28% increase, SUU took over as the year-to-year growth leader in the Utah System of Higher Education. This increase produced a total enrollment of 14,330 students in both in-person and online programs.
Utah Tech reported a 2.36% increase from last year. The biggest increase included freshmen, transfer students and graduate students. There are now 3,035 new Trailblazers on campus.
The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority reports that, including SUU and Utah Tech, six of the state’s universities had record-breaking enrollment this year, including the following increases: Weber State University, up 0.57% increase; University of Utah, 0.79%; Utah State University, 1.89%; and Utah Valley University, 4.45%.
“The campus is tight-knit, and students don’t get lost in the shuffle,” SUU President Mindy Benson said. “This feels like home. As students transition from high school to college, they want a place where they can feel comfortable and safe, and SUU is that place.”
Meanwhile, Utah Tech President Richard Williams responded to the increase in enrollment as part of a plan.
“UT’s growth has been very deliberate, planned and intentional,” Williams said. “To support student growth, we have added 165 academic programs since 2014.”
Benson and Williams responded to questions from St. George News relating to record-breaking enrollment and graduation rates this year.
Why do you think enrollment keeps increasing?
Benson: The uniqueness of Southern Utah University is one of the contributing factors to our enrollment increase. We’ve found that students prefer a more hands-on approach to higher education. Our professors are accessible to our students. Our classroom sizes remain small.
Our online student population is also growing. Providing various entry points and flexibility to completing a degree has been important to students and to the university during this period of growth.
Williams: Students throughout Southern Utah, Utah and our entire region are learning about the value of a Utah Tech University education.
Not only does Utah Tech University offer the most affordable university tuition in the state, but we also offer a quality education.
Q: Even though the enrollment rates are the highest in the state, according to education rating sites, the graduation rates for both SUU and Utah Tech are near the bottom of the state, with both under 50% graduating. What are the reasons, and what are the steps or plans to fight the low rate?
Benson: SUU has the third highest graduation rate among universities in the Utah System of Higher Education. We have made a concerted effort to keep our students once they arrive on campus.
Our graduation rate has also increased by over 10 percentage points since 2014. SUU has the highest retention and graduation rates in the eight Intermountain West states when compared with like institutions.
Williams: An important piece of our mission is being open access, which means that any student who graduated high school or has a GED is accepted to Utah Tech..
We are working on building 4-in-4 pathways that offer students an award each year that will help them in the workforce if they need to pause their education for any reason.
Q: What programs and/or ” things ” draw students to enroll? What causes people to leave your school? What can be worked on to make college life better for students?
Benson: While earning a degree is the main goal for a student, it’s also about the experience that gives students an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. SUU’s hallmark is personalization. Students feel a sense of belonging on our campus.
We also know that mental health and finances are two of the major reasons students leave SUU. Improving our mental health resources for students is a top priority, as is keeping our tuition and fees affordable.
Williams: Providing active learning opportunities that prepare students to graduate career-ready is at the core of UT’s mission. By learning with their heads and hands, students can better remember what they learn and enter the workforce ready on day one.
Retention continues to be on top of our minds for us, and we offer resources and services that support students’ success.
Q: What makes your school so unique and the best choice for college?
Benson: I can keep talking about SUU, but the school offers so much, from the “unique” style, hands-on learning, recreational activities, social aspects and on. It is a fulfilling and fun experience that helps students succeed in their careers as well as in life. SUU is home.
Williams: Utah Tech University provides hands-on learning experiences that prepare students for meaningful lives and rewarding careers through personalized and engaged learning opportunities.
Utah Tech is proud to provide students with “active learning. active life.” experiences in and out of the classroom by offering the complete college experience on one of the safest campuses in the West.
Note: The enrollment statistics for degree-granting institutions were released at the end of October. However, the technical schools, trade schools and specialized study school enrollment statistics will be released near the end of November.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.
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