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University of Montana enrollment has gone up after a decade of decline

University of Montana's Main Hall.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
University of Montana's Main Hall.

It’s the enrollment report the University of Montana has wanted to release for the past decade. For the first time since 2011, more students are enrolling at UM — and they’re sticking around.

More than 10,100 students are enrolled at the University of Montana this semester. That’s 3% more than this time last year.

The overall headcount includes 1,200 first-year students; a 30% increase over last year.

For the third year in a row UM’s student retention rate — the rate at which students stay to get their degree — stands at 75%. When UM President Seth Bodnar assumed his post in 2018, retention hovered around 68%.

University spokesperson Dave Kuntz is optimistic about the numbers.

“It feels great. We strongly believe 2021 is the year that UM is returning to growth. Not only this year, but really the university’s position for growth in the years ahead, too.”

Missoula College’s enrollment also grew 7% over last year to 1,200 students. Kuntz says UM’s revamped efforts to attract and retain students is now paying dividends.

“We’ve added extra layers of academic advising, we’ve revamped the way we do orientation and we’ve really made true our creed to put students at the center of all we do. It’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into it and this enrollment census really shows the fruits of that hard work,” he says.

UM says the net tuition and fee revenues will increase almost 8% as a result of the enrollment bump and rate increases.

Montana State University in Bozeman, meanwhile, recently announced its largest incoming class in its 128-year history.

Over 3,800 first-time students are attending MSU this fall, including undergraduates and Gallatin College MSU students. The prior record was set in 2016 at over 3,400.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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