EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah colleges and universities see large enrollment gains

Oct 25, 2021, 4:23 PM | Updated: 8:24 pm
utah valley university enrollment...
FILE: People walk around Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Colleges and universities across the state of Utah report increased enrollment numbers for fall 2021 over 2020. And in the cases of many trade and technical programs, that growth came in double-digits. 

Each of the major institutions in the state released their fall enrollment numbers for 2021 on Monday.  The Utah System of Higher Education reported overall, state colleges and universities saw a 2.24% increase in enrollment over a year ago. 

Enrollment up across Utah universities, trade schools

The University of Utah reported a new record for total enrollment in school history, as well as its largest ever freshman class. For the first time, the university reported more than 5,000 incoming first-time freshmen at the U., with 5,361, an increase of 19.6%. Overall, enrollment at the University of Utah rose 4.2% to 34,424.  

Utah Valley University maintains its status as the state’s largest four-year school, with a fall enrollment of 41,262 students. It’s a slight increase of just under 1%. This spring, the school graduated its largest class ever. Scott Trotter, public relations director for the school, said the reasons for the uptick in enrollment are as diverse as each school’s student bodies. 

“Everything from the increasing numbers of graduate students, to our incoming freshmen right out of high school,” Trotter said. “We’ve had the largest number of women attending ever at Utah Valley University, and people of color — I think that number went up 10%.” 

Concurrent enrollment, online options and technical programs shine

At Weber State University, officials reported a slight increase in enrollment to 29,774 students, up just under 200 students from last year.  However, the school said its “Concurrent Enrollment” courses, in which high school students can begin earning college credit, increased 6.4%. And like UVU, the university says that population is becoming more diverse: the number of students in those classes who self-identify as Black, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander rose 9.8% over a year ago. 

Cedar City’s Southwest Technical College outpaced all other trade programs in Utah with enrollment growth of around 20.6%. 

Southern Utah University also set a record for enrollment with an 8% increase to 13,611 students. School officials say a 42% increase in their online degree program drove much of that growth, with online students representing around 6% of the student population. 

Other technical schools with big gains include: 

  • Bridgerland Technical College: 2,964, 8.29% increase
  • Dixie Technical College: 1,138, 14.49% increase
  • Mountainland Technical College: 3,758, 11.22% increase
  • Ogden-Weber Technical College: 4,035, 11.68% increase
  • Tooele Technical College: 810, 13.45% increase
  • Uintah Basin Technical College: 1,934, 17.71% increase

Some schools report slight decreases

A few schools reported slight drops in enrollment. Enrollment decreased 0.96% at Utah State University, to 27,426, and about a quarter of a percent at Salt Lake Community College, to 27,225. Davis Technical College reported the steepest decrease in enrollment with a drop of 5.16%. 

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Utah colleges and universities see large enrollment gains