Growth in Graduate, International Students Contributes to Record Enrollment
Contact: Jeff Murphy
After beginning the 2013-2014 academic year with a record fall semester enrollment, momentum has continued to build at the University of Central Missouri resulting in the largest enrollment in university history for the spring 2014 semester. Unprecedented growth in graduate and international students is contributing to positive enrollment numbers and a more diverse student body.
According to spring census data provided to UCM Board of Governors Feb. 14, total enrollment is 12,864, including both undergraduate and graduate students. This is an 8.3 percent increase over the spring 2013 total of 11,879, and 351 students more than the fall 2013 enrollment, 12,513, which was previously the university’s all-time record.
“UCM has enjoyed three consecutive years of record enrollment increases, and to experience such positive growth this spring is a tremendous accomplishment for the university,” said Charles Ambrose, UCM president. “This would not be possible without a total campus commitment to initiatives that are focused on providing the most affordable, quality education we can offer students.”
Rick Sluder, the university’s vice provost for recruitment and outreach, presented enrollment data to the board, noting that that graduate student enrollment is up 37.4 percent from spring 2013. With 3,122 graduate students now attending UCM, one in four UCM students is studying at the graduate level, compared to one in five a year ago.
Growth in graduate student numbers is mostly due to significant increases in the international student population. Currently, there are 1,420 students from other countries enrolled at UCM, a 161 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Within the graduate area, international student numbers climbed from 241 in spring 2013 to 1,112 in spring 2014, a dramatic 361.4 percent increase.
The largest number of graduate students are coming from India, mostly from communities situated near technology regions. According to Joy Stevenson, director of the international center at UCM, these “students are attracted to the high quality of our programs, plus the success of students within the program getting internships and great job placements after graduation.” She added, “UCM is known as being a very supportive campus where students are assisted in many ways. It is also known as being a safe community where the cost of living is relatively low for the U.S.”
Many international students come to UCM seeking degrees in STEM-related areas, she said. They are particularly interested in programs such as computer science and computer information systems.
“The faculty, program coordinators, deans and department chairs have done an outstanding job structuring programs that fit the needs of these students, and are in high demand by employers,” Sluder said. “Courses are scheduled to meet the needs of students, affording plenty of flexibility, if they have jobs or other responsibilities. It really takes engaged and caring faculty members who are committed to students’ success to make such programs possible.”
Along with an increase in international students, the university is experiencing a 2.8 percent increase in Hispanic students, 4.2 percent increase in African-American students, and an 8.8 percent rise in students claiming two or more races, adding to a more diverse campus.
Realizing that affordability is one reason students attend UCM, the university continues to seek ways to reduce the financial burden its students and their families face during a tough economy. Measures such as holding tuition rates below the Consumer Price Index, enhancing scholarship funding, providing student employment, innovative programs/partnerships to reduce debt, and financial aid packages that include an increase in federal Pell Grant funding for Fiscal Year 2014 are helping to reduce the overall cost of an education at UCM.