Officials: UI values enrollment quality over quantity

BY AMY SKARNULIS | JULY 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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While student enrollment at Iowa State University is projected to surpass the University of Iowa this coming academic year for the first time in 33 years, UI officials say they are more concerned about quality rather than quantity.

Michael Barron, the director of UI Admissions, said the university set a goal in 2010 to reach a freshman class of 4,500 students within five years. That goal was met in the first year.

"There was this expectation that we would grow about 100 a year to hit that number over five years," he said.

Because the university has already met the goal, Barron said, UI officials are not trying to expand class sizes.

"We met our goal a lot faster than we thought," he said. "Our reaction was to stabilize at that level. That's where we wanted to get, and we wanted to sustain that number for incoming students in 2011."

UI spokesman Tom Moore said officials are not concerned about ISU's growing enrollment because they want to focus on the quality of education now that the desired enrollment rate was achieved.

UI officials saw the total enrollment increase 68 students in the fall of 2011 from the fall of 2010, according to a report from the Registrar's Office.

"[Students] know they can receive a high-quality education here at a reasonable cost," he said. "We do very well of attracting and retaining students, and that's our goal, to make sure we provide a high-quality educational experience."

Iowa State officials still plan to set goals in order to expand their student enrollment. None of the state Board of Regents' universities will know how large the official enrollment is until 10 days after the start of fall semester.

John McCarroll, the executive director of Iowa State university relations, said the school had 5,048 freshmen in the fall of 2011, a record for the school.

"Our admissions efforts were to at least match that number this year," he said.

ISU had a total enrollment of 29,887 in the fall of 2011, and although it is too early to have any official numbers, officals feel they will have an enrollment of around 31,000 this fall.

McCarroll accredits ISU's increase to growth in international and out-of-state numbers as well as student interest in the engineering and agriculture programs.

"One of the common misunderstandings people think of traditional agriculture is young people going back to the farm," he said. "What has taken place in the entire field is the whole area of agribusiness [which is what we offer]."

University of Northern Iowa officials have similar goals to expand class sizes.

Christie Kangas, the director of UNI Admissions, said the university has a plan to increase from 13,000 students to 14,000 in the next four to five years, noting roughly 90 percent of their students are in-state residents.

"[To reach our growth plan] we're doing more outreach out of state— in particular Minnesota and Illinois and expanding our international outreach," she said.

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