CMU enrollment dips about 4 percent from Fall 2016


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Fall 2017 enrollment at Central Michigan University was 23,335, or about 4 percent fewer students than Fall 2016.

CMU's total headcount for Fall 2016 was 24,445, according to the Michigan Association of State Universities. The university's announced enrollment is slightly higher than MASU's preliminary Fall 2017 headcount of 23,066. 

Student credit hours declined by 1.6 percent more than predicted, according to a Jan. 30 University Communications press release. That decline is what Barrie Wilkes, vice president for Finance and Administrative Services, called a "manageable rate." 

Lower than anticipated enrollment in Fall 2016 contributed to a $20 million, two-year budget deficit. In June, the Board of Trustees approved new count date policy. Because of this change, CMU, which traditionally announced its enrollment at the beginning of the fall semester, pushed the announcement back until after the semester’s completion. 

More than half of CMU’s enrollment decline in Fall 2017 was due to fewer international and transfer students. CMU had a 260-student decrease in transfer enrollment. International enrollment dropped to fewer than 1,000 students for the first time since 2013. The university attributes these declines to a decrease in Michigan community college enrollment and "policy debates in Washington, D.C."

CMU also experienced a slight decrease in multicultural enrollment. The freshman class, however, had a record high 22 percent diversity rate of non-caucasian students.

The release states that CMU’s strategic enrollment management team and Office of Institutional Research projected an enrollment decline based on the number of high school seniors in Michigan and its surrounding states. Michigan as a state had the second-largest enrollment decrease in the U.S., according to the National Student Clearinghouse. 

Steven Johnson, vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, said in the release that CMU years ago predicted these declines and identified increasing competition among universities. That made the university seek ways to attract students. He added that CMU has placed an emphasis on leadership planning, health care, STEM and business programs and that intensive recruiting and marketing has played a role.

"The recruitment, retention and graduation of students means all of us must engage in advancing academic excellence, in creating the best possible environment for students and in delivering the programs that make our students ultimately marketable when they graduate," Johnson stated in the release.

University Communications also reported a record increase in the number of online classes and programs. The Fall 2017 enrollment is 9 percent higher than the previous fall semester. 

"CMU's Online Academic Program Committee studied, planned and ultimately fueled the expansion of our online program offerings," President George Ross said in the release. "As a result, faculty have created 40 new courses and 12 new online programs. This is tremendous growth in a high-demand area, responding to both student and employer needs."

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