CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa reports shrinking enrollment

'A decrease in enrollment was anticipated'

The Old Capitol Building stands on the Pentacrest of the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. The university on Thurs
The Old Capitol Building stands on the Pentacrest of the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. The university on Thursday reported its fall enrollment was 30,448, nearly 800 students less than last fall, a drop that was anticipated because of coronavirus concerns. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa on Thursday reported student losses for the fall semester — with total enrollment down nearly 800 students to 30,448.

The university’s undergraduate count dropped more than 1,000 to 22,405, and its freshmen tally dipped 456 to 4,530.

All three of Iowa’s public universities projected fewer students this fall semester, which is shaping up to be vastly different from the typical college experience — with three-quarters of undergraduate instruction online, shuttered downtown bars and no football games for the Hawkeyes.

“A decrease in enrollment was anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a UI news release.

Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa — which started the semester earlier than UI and so reported fall enrollment numbers last week — also cited shrinking enrollments.

ISU’s enrollment was down 1,566 students and UNI was down 975.

Iowa State’s new freshmen total fell 9.3 percent — from 5,597 last year to 5,071 now — and its total enrollment dropped from 33,391 to 31,825, keeping it as the largest of Iowa’s public universities.

Despite UNI’s smaller total enrollment, it welcomed slightly more freshmen this fall than last, 1,482 compared with 1,465, thanks largely to more recruitment of out-of-state students, which saw a 38 percent bump.

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UNI’s out-of-state enrollment increased from 718 last fall to 1,067 this year. Its in-state enrollment dropped from 9,394 to 8,455.

Although a breakdown of in-state, out-of-state, and international students wasn’t immediately available for the UI’s fall enrollment Thursday, it reported its freshman class is about 58 percent Iowa residents — or 2,612 — with 69 international students.

Both of those numbers are down from last fall, when the new freshman class had 2,776 Iowa residents and 120 international students.

Touting the class’ diversity, the university reported 971 first-generation students this fall — down from 1,092 last fall. About 21 percent, or 961, identify as a minority, down from last fall’s 987 — which amounted to about 20 percent of the class.

Withdrawn

Given the unusual nature of this fall term — and reports of more than 1,600 student infections of COVID-19 already in the semester — The Gazette requested the number of students who have withdrawn already this semester.

To date, 130 UI students have withdrawn — including 101 undergraduates, 21 graduate students and eight professional students, according to UI spokeswoman Anne Bassett.

For comparison, last fall, 99 students withdrew — including 72 undergrads, 24 graduate students and three professional students.

Iowa State last week reported 40 students had withdrawn in the first two weeks — on par with the 43 who withdrew through the same period last fall.

UNI said 95 of its students have withdrawn this semester, including 69 in the first week.

High points

The UI, like Iowa State, is boasting of its freshman class’ academic accomplishments, calling it the most “accomplished class in its history for the fourth year in a row.”

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The university’s first-year class has an average high school grade-point average of 3.78 — higher than any previous class, including last year’s entering class, which had an average 3.76 GPA, and the first-year class before that, which had a 3.71 average GPA.

Iowa State also reported a record-high GPA for its freshman class this year — at 3.71.

UI Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen cited some of this year’s enrollment high points in suggesting the campus will come out of this pandemic stronger.

“This year’s incoming class is as accomplished and diverse as ever, and I know that they will make their mark on the University of Iowa,” she said in a statement. “The class of 2024 has already shown their resiliency as their senior year in high school was disrupted.

“We are so grateful to have them here on campus, and I look forward to working with our new students to continue our commitment to building a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community for all Hawkeyes.”

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