Utah Valley State College again has turned away an estimated 2,000 students who could not find classes needed to complete freshman and sophomore requirements at the open-enrollment school.

For the second consecutive year, space constraints have hindered UVSC's ability to handle a sudden enrollment surge. Early enrollment figures show a 2,500-student increase over last year's figures.Classrooms at the Orem campus and several branches in nearby cities are packed full, said UVSC President Kerry D. Romesburg, who teaches an honors philosophy class with another professor.

At this time last year, nearly 13,243 students had signed up at UVSC. Registrars on Thursday counted 15,827 students taking at least one college class.

Some 10,868 students are taking at least 12 credit hours, up from 9,370 last year.

"It's looking like it was last year," said Derek Hall, school spokesman. "Three weeks before school started all the math and English classes were filled. Anytime we opened a few sections - at night or on Saturdays - they were filled in a few hours."

Hall said administrators are concerned about the growing percentage of students who are opting to attend school part time. Inability to get into or find classes at convenient times are reasons students say they take fewer credit hours per semester, he said.

Rooms at a nearby Institute of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been rented by UVSC for liberal-arts education classes, Hall said.

"Without that, we'd be dead meat," he said. "We are as tight as we can get."

An official count of students from Utah's nine colleges and universities is due Tuesday.

A sweeping systemwide change to semesters at Utah's public higher-education institutions could affect enrollment figures. Legislators consider the number of students to determine a monetary allocation from state funds for each school.

Utah Valley switched to the 16-week semester schedule in 1990 to maintain a similar academic calendar as Brigham Young University in nearby Provo. That year, enrollment at the former trade school dipped 1.1 percent.

Neither headcount nor full-time equivalent figures have dipped since. According to projections released this summer by the Utah State Board of Regents, UVSC's numbers aren't expected to drop anytime soon.

In the next decade, the state's higher-education governing panel anticipates UVSC will attract 23,170 students for at least one class. Students who take 12 credits or more are expected to number about 16,000.

"I can tell you it will grow to even more than that," Romesburg said. "These figures are extremely modest."

Regents did not take into consideration new programs, more buildings, branch campuses or a possible influx of students from Weber, Davis or Salt Lake counties, he said.

To manage the projected growth, trustees from the school will meet on Sept. 23 to review the institution's mission and future role.

As requested by regent Chairman Charlie Johnson, officials will discuss proposed facilities, potential expansions and how the school can plug into technological advances to service students.