Ailts: Flaws in university enrollment

Enrollment rates have been falling and it’s time to address the issues of higher education.

by Ellen Ailts

Though the incoming class at the University of Minnesota will be the largest the school has seen in 40 years, these numbers are an anomaly among current trends in university enrollment nationwide. 2017 marks the fifth consecutive year in which numbers have fallen, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. 

The rate of college-bound high school graduates in Minnesota fell below 70 percent this year, according to the state Office of Higher Education. This continuing and rapid decline has hurt the Minnesota State college system especially, with several of its institutions under close financial monitoring.

Some of this decrease is simply due to demographics, specifically a dip in the birth rate — but it’s also because tuition costs are steadily rising. Some colleges have attempted to remedy this issue, like Concordia University, which in 2013 cut its tuition cost by 34 percent and saw increased enrollment as a result. 

Improving college resources, like internship and study abroad opportunities, to make higher education a worthwhile investment is another important facet of the solution. A potential explanation for the University’s rising enrollment rate is perhaps the school’s myriad resources and value for money, attracting a wide range of students. 

Cost of tuition, of course, still plays a role in determining these trends, and cuts should be advocated to make higher education more accessible and solvent for all. The issue of high tuition cost and the inadequacy of financial aid is only going to become more pronounced, since students are predicted to be increasingly low-income racial and ethnic minorities, which is the type of student who typically requires more financial aid. 

This is a problem we should confront now, before future high school graduates are unfairly limited in their post-grad opportunities.