Here's how Utah colleges avoided steep enrollment drops after Mormon missionary change

Published: Monday, Aug. 26 2013 10:00 a.m. MDT

Utah Valley University

Whitney Wilkinson, spokeswoman for Utah Valley University, said UVU is looking at a drop in enrollment between 7 and 8 percent, or roughly 2,100 to 2,500 students. She said that drop in enrollment can be partly attributed to the improving economy – as a growing job market pulls students away from the classroom – but the largest effect appears to have been the LDS missionary requirement changes.

"That's kind of the lion's share of where that decrease is coming from," she said.

Salt Lake Community College

Joy Tlou, spokesman for Salt Lake Community College, said the school's enrollment was 26,912 on Thursday, but that number was expected to fluctuate during the first weeks of the semester. That figure is a 1.5 percent dip from last fall – or roughly 300 students – but it is unclear if that change can be attributed to LDS missions as SLCC's average student age is 26.

"It could be explained by the economy, it could be explained by a number of things," Tlou said of the enrollment numbers.

Pamela Silberman, spokeswoman for the Utah System of Higher Education, said the official fall enrollment figures will not be available until early October. Until that time, she said, officials are not able to definitively state the impact on enrollment and tuition revenue in the state.

But she added that preliminary reports from schools suggest that state-wide, the drop in enrollment has not been as severe as projected.

"System-wide the enrolments are not decreasing as much as our projections showed, which is a good thing," she said. "Until we really have third-week numbers we can't do any real analysis on the situation."

Figures for the University of Utah were not available.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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