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   from the issue of September 23, 2004

NU enrollment down slightly in 2004

Enrollment at the University of Nebraska for fall 2004 dropped 2 percent from 2003 figures, according to numbers released Sept. 15 by NU central administration. Total enrollment is 45,116 at UNL, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

UNL's undergraduate enrollment dropped 4 percent, and graduate enrollment dropped 1.4 percent. Undergraduate enrollment was down by 2.1 percent at all NU campuses, with graduate enrollment down by 2.3 percent at all campuses. UNK and UNMC showed an increase in enrollment of undergraduates, while graduate enrollment decreased at all four campuses.

NU President James B. Milliken said, "Slight fluctuations in enrollment are common in an institution of this size, but we need to be moving in the other direction. There are many more Nebraskans who would benefit from attending the university and who would contribute to Nebraska's economic future."

Among the strategies Milliken says he favors for boosting enrollment:

• An effort to increase the college-going rate among Nebraska high school graduates (currently 59.3 percent), including working with other educational institutions and related organizations.

• Additional need-based aid for Nebraska students. The recent "Measuring Up" report from the National Center for Public Policy in Higher Education gave the state of Nebraska an F for affordability of higher education, primarily because of the shortage of need-based aid.

• Increased efforts to recruit out-of-state students.

• Earlier recruitment efforts in Nebraska schools, starting in middle school, to help ensure that students understand admissions requirements.

• A stronger effort to educate Nebraska families about the cost of a college education. "We need to make sure families have a better idea of what the real costs are, and how much help is available to them," Milliken said.

Milliken also cited "some real bright spots" in the 2004 enrollment report.

"Although we don't have all statistics in yet, it appears that our incoming freshmen have exceptional academic credentials," he said. "UNL freshmen, for example, have an average ACT score of 24.8, the highest in their history and well above the state average of 21.7. The average score for UNO and UNK students is also above the state average. In addition, the GPA of every incoming class at the medical center colleges is above 3.5."

Other enrollment highlights:

• A large increase in transfer students: 9 percent at UNL and 5.9 percent at UNO compared to 2003.

• UNO and UNK both show increases in the number of new freshman students: 6.7 percent at UNO and 3.6 percent at UNK compared to 2003. However, freshman numbers are down 11.2 percent at UNL.

• Enrollment of ethnic minority students at UNK increased 10.4 percent, including an increase of 21.8 percent in Hispanic students. UNL's enrollment of ethnic minority students increased 8 percent over 2003.

"Those are all positive trends," Milliken said, "but we still have a lot of work to do."



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