Gains in access, diversity, "reasons to celebrate" in new University enrollment numbers

September 9, 2019

The University of Nebraska continues to make important gains in expanding access to education and growing the diversity of its student body, providing reasons to celebrate even as enrollment dipped slightly in fall 2019, according to new figures announced today by Interim President Susan Fritz.

Enrollment across the four NU campuses and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is 51,150, a decline of 1.4 percent from last year’s total of 51,885.

This is the ninth straight year NU enrollment has topped 50,000, a streak that includes back-to-back record highs in 2016 and 2017. The university’s graduating classes have grown steadily over time, with more than 11,000 new graduates now entering the workforce every year as NU focuses on meeting the economic needs of the state.

“Certainly growth is always the goal, and we need to think creatively and aggressively about how we can expand access to even more Nebraskans and attract more talent to our state,” Fritz said. “We recognize that the state’s workforce needs are urgent and that the University of Nebraska has a vital role to play.

“The chancellors, Board of Regents and I are unified in our commitment not only to growth, but to ensuring that every student can graduate on time, enter the workforce and contribute to a prosperous future for Nebraska.”

Fritz commended campus leaders for a range of new strategies and programs underway to expand access, student success and workforce development.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s recently announced Completion Imperative, for example, aims to ensure that every UNO student earns their degree. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln just announced a $3.6 million grant that will provide scholarships and academic support to underrepresented Nebraska students pursuing careers in workforce-critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields at UNL, Southeast Community College and Western Nebraska Community College.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney’s newly unveiled “Be Blue. Be Gold. Be Bold” marketing campaign aims to attract future Lopers through stories about UNK and its students, and a new “pathway” partnership between UNK and Central Community College that expands access to a UNK education now enrolls six students. And the University of Nebraska Medical Center continues to add programs to meet the evolving needs of Nebraska’s health care workforce, including this year a new master’s degree in genetics counseling and a master’s in health administration.

Highlights of this fall’s enrollment numbers include:

  • UNMC is celebrating its 19th straight record-high enrollment. Growth continues to be strong in the College of Nursing, an urgent need for Nebraska’s workforce. And the Health Science Education Complex on the UNK campus – a public-private partnership to provide more nurses and allied health professionals for rural Nebraska – has reached capacity, with 110 students enrolled this year.
  • NU continues to build an increasingly diverse student body, demonstrating its commitment to access. UNL’s freshman class is its most diverse in history, with 18 percent from minority backgrounds. Shares of underrepresented students at UNO grew at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and more than one-third of UNO’s incoming first-year students are from underrepresented populations. About 40 percent of all new Mavericks are first-generation students.
  •  UNL’s freshman class has the highest average ACT score, 25.5, in university history.
  • Nonresident, U.S.-based enrollment at UNL increased 3 percent, reflecting both UNL’s growing profile in the Big Ten and increased efforts to recruit students in key markets outside Nebraska – important progress as the state seeks to grow its talent base to meet workforce needs.
  • NU’s online programs continue to see strong growth, a signal that the university is expanding access to students who may not otherwise be able to pursue an NU education. At UNK, the number of undergraduates taking courses exclusively online grew almost 30 percent, and UNO saw almost 10 percent growth in online-only students. More than 125 programs are now available through the University of Nebraska Online.
  • Growth among transfer students is strong. At UNK, for example, enrollment of full-time transfer undergraduates is up 18 percent. Fritz noted that the university will place a high priority on working with higher education partners to grow and communicate more aggressively about Transfer Nebraska, a database of courses that transfer between higher education institutions to ease the path to a degree for Nebraska students.
  • UNK’s College of Arts and Sciences saw strong growth, and enrollment in the College of Business and Technology increased as well. At UNL, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and College of Journalism and Mass Communications experienced growth, and the journalism and business colleges both saw increases in graduate students, reflecting their efforts to provide more flexible options for those in the workforce seeking additional credentials.

Details on the University of Nebraska’s fall 2019 enrollment follow. Figures are based on a student census taken on the sixth day of classes.

University-wide enrollment totals

  • Undergraduate students: 38,400 (1.4 percent decrease)
  • First-time freshmen: 7,706 (2.6 percent decrease)
  • Graduate students: 9,575 (2 percent decrease)
  • Professional students: 3,175 (0.1 percent increase)
  • Total enrollment including NCTA: 51,150 (1.4 percent decrease)

Campus enrollment totals

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln: 25,332 (1.9 percent decrease)
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha: 15,153 (1.8 percent decrease)
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney: 6,279 (0.8 percent decrease)
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center: 4,055 (2.1 percent increase)
  • Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture: 331 (1.2 percent decrease)
Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska