Montana university enrollment dips, but retention rate rises

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Enrollment at the University of Montana has continued to fall despite improvements in retention and student enrollment growth in graduate and law schools.

The university has seen declining enrollment since a record high point in fall 2011, with current numbers showing a nearly 35% decline since then, the Missoulian reported.

The census report released Tuesday shows that there are 10,247 students, including all grade levels, which is still fewer than the undergraduate enrollment peak in fall 2010 when it counted 10,891 students, university officials said. There are now 5,789 undergraduate students, a 47% decline, the report said.

The university was focused less on enrolling a specific number of students, but more on how to deliver high quality education to the students they have, university spokesperson Paula Short said.

The report also shows an 89.4% retention rate of freshmen who re-enrolled for spring, the highest rate since 2016.

“This encouraging retention data for spring suggests that we are on track to see increased retention of first-year students to their sophomore year and beyond,” Provost Jon Harbor said.

The report also says graduate students and the law school both increased by 3.3% and 5.9% respectively since last spring.