Enrollment of graduate and professional students at the University of Wyoming stayed steady this fall after the school experienced a significant drop in 2018.
From the start of school in 2017 to the start of 2018’s academic year, enrollment of professional and graduate students on UW’s campus dropped 6%.
In the last year, however, the total number of those students has only dropped by 10 students, bringing the current total to 2,442 graduate and professional students, as of the 15th day of classes.
A strategic plan for the Office of Academic Affairs has set a goal of increasing UW’s graduate school attendance to 2,835 by 2022.
Last year, Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education James Ahern told the Laramie Boomerang there are several factors that have led to a decline in graduate enrollment.
The prime draw for prospective graduate students is faculty conducting high-quality and well-known research, Ahern said. Some of that high-profile research has been lost in the last few years.
With budget cuts on the horizon in 2015, UW implemented early retirement programs that led to the departure of many full professors.
The recent graduate student numbers stand in contrast with the university’s undergraduate trends.
Both of UW ’s largest freshmen classes ever have come in the last two years. However, record numbers of graduates also means UW currently stands more than 1,000 students short of its overall enrollment goal of 13,500, which its five-year plan calls for UW to hit by 2022.
In the last two years, out-of-state students have composed an increasingly larger percentage of UW’s undergraduate enrollment.
This fall, there were 44 more out-of-state freshmen enrolling at UW than in-state students.
However, that trend is likely to reverse in the coming years after the university’s board of trustees agreed to a plan that would cut scholarships for out-of-staters while providing $1 million more in need-based aid to Wyomingites.
“This pursuit of 13,500 (students) has always included nonresident residents, but we have created an opportunity to better demonstrate our interest and desire for Wyoming students to make the University of Wyoming their choice for higher education,” said Kyle Moore, associate vice provost for enrollment management. “We want to very clearly articulate that the University of Wyoming is excited to serve the educational needs of Wyoming and beyond, and that desire to serve students includes our recruitment of new first-time students and transferring students, or the continued support of students who have already made the University of Wyoming their choice.”
The number of students who transferred to UW from out-of-state dropped significantly this year.
Just two years ago, 315 students transferred to UW from out-of-state. This year, 233 did so.
After that number started to drop last year, Moore said certain out-of-state community colleges that had historically been strong “transfer pipelines” have seen declining enrollment, giving UW a smaller pool of students to pull from.