Fall 2003 Enrollments Reflect State, National & International Conditions
Headcount enrollment figures for fall 2003 at the University of Nebraska appear to reflect changes in the state and national economy as well as international tensions. The NU enrollment decline of 1.8 percent is consistent with reports from other major universities. While national data are still being compiled, many institutions have reported enrollments that show only marginal increases or decreases compared to last fall. Other universities that have reported fall enrollments recently include:

Purdue +0.6 percent
University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign +1.6 percent
University of Illinois - Chicago - 1.8 percent
Iowa State University - 1.9 percent
University of Iowa + 0.2 percent

Enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln declined by 1.9 percent. The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s enrollment increased by 1.6 percent. The University of Nebraska at Omaha experienced a 3.1 percent decline, while the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s enrollment declined by 0.3 percent.

Higher ACT Scores

The quality of students entering the university continues to improve. ACT scores continue to rise each year. In fact, this year’s entering class of freshmen at UNL is the most academically talented in that campus’s history, with an average ACT score of 24.4. UNK’s average ACT score of 22.1, and UNO’s average of 23.1, are likewise record high scores.

More full-time students

The overall decrease in NU student credit hours, at 0.7 percent, is less than half the decrease in enrollment, which illustrates a continued trend toward more full-time students as compared to part-time students. At UNK, total full-time enrollment increased by 1.1 percent.

Effects of International Tensions, Military Deployments

A decrease in the number of international students, probably the result of increased international tensions, contributed to a loss of enrollment that accounts for 33 percent of the total decline at UNL (140 out of 429 students) and 18 percent of the decline at UNO (83 out of 454 students). UNK has had an increase in international students, in large part because of a National Collegiate Network program which has brought increasing numbers of Japanese students to the campus for the past three years.

The deployment of reserve and national guard units also has had an impact. For example, UNK had 55 registered students who are members of military units last year, and only 16 this year. At UNO, at least 50 students –and possibly as many as 100– have been deployed with military units. Some students deployed last December apparently did not notify UNO of the reason for their departure.

Together, the deployment of students in military units and the decline in international students account for 40 percent of the University of Nebraska’s total enrollment decline.

First-time freshmen, minorities

Enrollment of first-time freshmen increased by 0.7 percent at UNL, held steady at UNK, and declined by 9.5 percent at UNO. The decrease at UNO is affected by the decision on that campus to allow fewer students to enter under the university’s "Admit by Review" policy. That policy allows students who do not meet all admission requirements to enter the university, usually with an agreement that they make up deficiencies within a time limit. The intent of the UNO change is to limit the number of students whose deficiencies would make it difficult to succeed in college-level academic work.

Minority student enrollment increased at UNL and at UNK (by 7.8 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively), and decreased slightly (0.7 percent) at UNO.

Financial Barriers

Financial barriers to student access continue to create an issue both nationally and in Nebraska. University officials continue to voice concerns about the need for increased financial aid, particularly for students from low-income families. "In the face of the continuing national trend toward lower state support for public universities and the consequent increases in tuition, we are concerned about student access," said Jay Noren, NU Executive Vice President and Provost. "There is a substantial need for increased student financial aid from both state and federal levels."

The University of Nebraska has increased its own funding for need-based financial aid, adding $2 million to its budget in each year of the current biennium for that purpose.

Note: for additional information on enrollments for the individual campuses, please contact the following:

UNL: Meg Lauerman, Director of University Communications (402) 472-0296
UNO: Tim Kaldahl, Assistant Director, Media Relations (402) 554-3502
UNK Ann Tillery, Director of University Communications (308) 865-8131
UNMC: Tom O’Connor Senior Associate Director of Public Affairs (402) 559-4690

For additional information on university-wide enrollment data, please contact Joe Rowson, Director of Communications (4020 472-7133, or Jay Noren, Executive Vice President and Provost (402) 472-5242.
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