Enrollment increases over 2% at Utah’s public colleges and universities

USHE sees the impact of returning LDS missionaries

Utah’s public colleges and universities are seeing a 2 percent bump in enrollment this fall semester. After two consecutive years of flat enrollment growth, primarily driven by the missionary age change announced in fall 2012 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, returning missionaries are finding their way back to campus.

The first “snapshot” of college enrollments for the 2015-16 school year (fall semester, third week) shows the number of students at institutions in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) increased by 3,453 students (headcount), for a net increase of 2.06 percent over 2014.  The percent increase in full-time equivalent (FTE) students was slightly larger, at 2.79 percent, which indicates more students are attending full-time.

“With this year’s enrollment growth, the presidents of our colleges and universities are committed to ensuring there are the needed course sections, increased faculty, and increased student support services for these students,” said Dave Buhler, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education. “As we serve a growing number of students—we anticipate adding another 50,000 students in the next decade—it will be crucial to receive legislative funding to keep higher education accessible and affordable for all Utahns.”

Differences in enrollment growth between USHE institutions reflect the distinct mission of each institution and how external factors, such as changes in the economy, may impact each institution differently. At institutions with a large part-time student population, such as Salt Lake Community College, the decline in enrollment is partially due to more of these individuals returning to full-time employment as the economy continues to improve.

Total FTE approximates the number of students enrolled full-time each semester (15 semester hours for undergraduate students; 10 semester hours for graduate students). Headcount includes all students enrolled at an institution.

Total headcount20152014# Change% Change
University of Utah31,67331,5151580.50%
Utah State University28,62227,6629603.47%
Weber State University25,95526,266-311-1.18%
Southern Utah University8,8817,6561,22516.00%
Snow College5,1114,7793326.95%
Dixie State University8,5038,570-67-0.78%
Utah Valley University33,21131,3321,8796.00%
Salt Lake Community College28,81429,537-723-2.45%
USHE (total)170,770167,3173,4532.06%

Total FTE20152014# Change% Change
University of Utah26,91126,7421690.63%
Utah State University22,14120,8891,2525.99%
Weber State University16,04615,989570.36%
Southern Utah University6,9296,15077912.66%
Snow College3,9093,7461634.34%
Dixie State University6,3816,405-24-0.37%
Utah Valley University22,59121,3351,2565.89%
Salt Lake Community College15,55315,932-380-2.38%
USHE (total)120,460117,1893,2712.79%

*Total Headcount and Total FTE include budget-related and self-support enrollment figures

To see more on the effect of the LDS missionary age change, see our online interactive graph comparing USHE fall enrollment figures in 2012 (before the missionary age change), in 2013 (after the missionary age change), and in 2015 (after many missionaries have returned).