Enrollment declines by the numbers

By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer

Student enrollment numbers for UMass Dartmouth are down. This was signaled by the announcement that Roberts Hall, a first-year dorm, will be closing after this spring semester.

According to statistics available on the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment data reports page of the UMass Dartmouth website, between Fall 2012 and Fall 2016 total enrollment at the university dropped by over 500 students, from 9,210 to 8,647. That is about 5 percent fewer students enrolled last academic year than four years before. The trend is of consistent decrease.

Interestingly, while numbers of undergraduate and graduate students have gone down, university extension numbers have gone up around 10 percent to nearly 1,500.

New enrollment is noticeably down. Around 200 fewer first-year students enrolled in 2016 than in 2012, or 13 percent. This fits with the statement made to the Torch a few weeks ago by Lucinda Poudrier of the Housing Department, regarding Roberts’s imminent closing. There are simply fewer first-years coming in.

But does the explanation, that more students are enrolled in community colleges, hold up? To check, enrollment numbers of a several other public community colleges and public universities in the state will be compared to UMass Dartmouth’s.

If you are not interested in numbers, skip to the end.

Bristol Community College has gone from a total of 9,022 students in 2012 to 8,476 in 2016. That is a decrease of 546 students, or 6 percent. BCC’s loss in enrollment is more than but similar to UMass Dartmouth’s.

Massasoit Community College decreased from 3,618 total students in 2013 (data from 2012 or earlier not available) to 3,116 students in 2016. That is a loss of 502 students or nearly 14 percent.

Cape Cod Community College went from 4,201 students in 2012 to 3,319 students in 2016. That is a decrease of 882 students or over 20 percent fewer students.

Framingham State University has gone from 6,415 students in 2011 (data for 2012-2015 not available) to a total of 5,977 students in 2016. They have experienced a fall of nearly 438 students or 7 percent.

Bridgewater State University went from 11,417 students in 2012 to 10,998 students in 2016. BSU lost 419 students or 3 percent.

UMass Lowell has gone from 16,294 students in 2012 to 17,854 students in 2016. UML experienced an increase of 1,560 students or nearly 9 percent. UMass Boston and Amherst both experienced around 6 percent growth as well.

While other state universities are experiencing a decrease in enrollment similar to our own, it does not appear that these students are going to nearby community colleges. These community colleges have mostly experienced worse losses than UMass Dartmouth or comparable state universities in the area.

This is far from an exhaustive comparison. Left out were private universities, out-of-state universities, and some state schools that are not near UMass Dartmouth.

Information was acquired from state universities’ websites, and some were left out because they did not feature relevant data.

In summary, it seems that all college enrollment is down in southern Massachusetts. On the up side, this leads to the conclusion that it is not the university’s fault. On the downside, that means that UMass Dartmouth may just have to deal with fewer students.

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