Regents talk enrollment strategy

The University is considering recruiting more out-of-state students and students interested in STEM fields.

University Regent Thomas Devine speaks at a meeting of the Facilities, Planning & Operations Committee of the Board of Regents on Thursday, October 8.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

University Regent Thomas Devine speaks at a meeting of the Facilities, Planning & Operations Committee of the Board of Regents on Thursday, October 8.

Hoping to pre-empt changing enrollment trends, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents is discussing expansion of some colleges and targeting out-of-state students.
 
In the face of increasing diversity, growing numbers of international students, a decline in Midwest high school enrollment and questions surrounding reciprocity, the University outlined its enrollment plan at a regents meeting Thursday.
 
Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, said high school enrollment in the Midwest is expected to decline about 5 percent between 2013 and 2022.
 
A decline would result in more students from outside the region attending the University, he said.
 
Regent Thomas Devine said regents have discussed making efforts to increase the number of students from Minnesota.
 
“There are some legislators that think we should be taking more kids from Minnesota … and what the University is trying to do is balance that out,” Devine said.
McMaster said there’s a question of balance between Minnesotan and non-Minnesotan students. About 64 percent of the University’s student body pays in-state tuition, which makes it hard for the administration to increase the proportion of students in this area.
 
“We want to make sure as best as we can to maintain our geographic diversity while being mindful our main mission is to serve Minnesota kids,” McMaster said.
 
McMaster said the University has been targeting certain fields for even more growth.
 
“The admissions department has targeted Carlson School of Management as well as [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields for growth because of their many high-quality applicants as well as workforce needs in the state,” he said.
 
McMaster said this could shift over the next five or 10 years, depending on nationwide and statewide trends in those fields.
 
Lori Carrell, vice chancellor for academic affairs and student development at the Rochester campus, discussed retention of in-state students.
 
“First, we want to retain state talent, and this is extremely important to us,” she said at the meeting.
 
McMaster said the proportion of international students has increased from 1 to 6 percent over the last decade.
 
The University isn’t allowed to set racial enrollment quotas, he said.
 
“[We] try to be very attentive in maintaining our ethnic racial diversity here, being mindful of the pool we draw from,” he said.
 
In terms of population, McMaster said he believes the University is at the right size.
 
“We can’t just grow student body from 30,000 and 40,000 because student experience would be undermined. Growth is constrained by available housing, advising and academic resources,” he said.
 
Regents discussed decreasing ACT score requirements, which would allow more students to attend the University, Devine said.
 
Devine said the board will look at what would happen to academic standards and anticipate the number of students who would attend if the ACT requirements were lowered.
 
McMaster said the quality and level of standards would not decrease or suffer.
 
“Standards are not dropping — standards are going up. The quality of the freshman class has improved every year for the last decade,” he said.
 
Colleges in the University system approach student selection through holistic reviews, Carrell said, which look at a broad range of information like ACT scores, GPAs, high school transcripts and extracurricular activities.
 
Devine said the discussions are mainly based on statistics and trends and how those can affect the student experience.
 
“In some ways, it’s a big puzzle to put things together,” he said.