Bigger U a better U?

Increased enrollment is not a fix for the University’s financial woes.

Last Thursday, the Board of Regents received a report showing that this yearâÄôs freshman class is perhaps the most impressive in University history. Average ACT scores are up for the seventh straight year, reaching 26.6, and high school rankings are significantly improved; essentially all new students graduated in the top half of their class. This improvement was made possible by a tremendous surge in applications, up by nearly 5,000 since last year, allowing admissions officers to be more selective. Still, it demonstrates an increased competitiveness with peer institutions in the top tier of public universities nationwide and will improve the value of a University of Minnesota degree. Overall, enrollment increased by 1 percent to 51,659, maintaining MinnesotaâÄôs position as the second largest school in the Big Ten, after Ohio State University. While this growth may be the result of more students accepting admission in a down economy, it also comes at a time when administrators are looking to grow tuition revenue, saying it is the âÄúrevenue stream with the highest potential for significant long-term growth.âÄù With tuition increases currently limited thanks to federal stimulus money, increasing enrollment is an easy avenue for raising additional money. Administration must not tread this path. Adding students without additional investment in faculty, labs and classrooms would be shortsighted and counter-productive. It would make the recent improvements in entering classes a fleeting victory and further strain University teaching resources. Overcrowded classes and overworked professors will ultimately reduce education quality and the UniversityâÄôs reputation.