by Onize Ohikere
As the school year kicks off with fresh faces and new classes, MSUM continues to struggle with its declining enrollment rate.
Undergraduate enrollment reduced by more than six percent last fall. This school year, the numbers are still falling.
“We anticipated enrollment will see a small decline and we built a budget around that,” said MSUM executive director of marketing and communications, David Wahlberg.
He explained that the official figures for this year will be released in three weeks.
While the undergraduate numbers remain bleak, MSUM’s graduate enrollment stays positive — it increased by more than 22 percent last fall. The rising figures resulted in more additions to graduate programs, including more online and hybrid options.
“We’ve seen good success and response,” Wahlberg said.
MSUM Student Senate President Sean Duckworth said students should have no fears of an immediate impact regarding the reduced enrollment. “Students are not going to feel any major difference this year than they did last year,” Duckworth said. “Things are kind of set for the next fiscal year. That gives us two years to resolve this.”
Reduced enrollment implies fewer funds for academics and student organizations. “They either have to figure out new ways to increase revenue, or start cutting back,” Duckworth said. As a remedy for this school year, Wahlberg said MSUM will make adjustments to the budget and pull in some excess funds from last fiscal year’s budget.
A 2012 survey showed 97 percent of MSUM graduates got employed in their fields or continued on to another degree. “For prospective students, that’s a powerful incentive,” Wahlberg said.
But Duckworth believes that does not address the problem: “We’re really good at getting them in. It’s the ‘holding them’ part that we’re struggling with.”