Officials at the University of Northern Iowa are projecting fall enrollment on the Cedar Falls campus could reach its lowest level since 1989. UNI Vice President for Student Services Terry Hogan says preliminary budget figures show a loss of 473 students over last fall, which would put the coming fall enrollment below 12,000 students.
The numbers, which would result in a drop in UNI’s budget, were delivered Wednesday to the Board of Regents. But, Hogan doubts enrollment will actually take that big of a nose dive. “The number reported at the board meeting was really a budget planning number, so for that purpose, we felt it was best to be conservative about that so as to not fall short later on,” Hogan said.
“We actually expect our enrollment to be in a place similar to where it was this past fall.” A host of budget cuts last year resulted in the closing of the Malcolm Price Lab School and the elimination of over 50 low-enrollment academic programs. Jacob Green spent his first two years at UNI, but is transferring to the University of Iowa after his sports management major was cut.
After UNI made the budget cuts last year, Green said many of his classmates started to worry that their major would be next on the chopping block. “Not only students, but professors as well,” Green said. “Going forward, I think since they’ve made so many cuts, I don’t know how many more they can possibly make.”
Green believes UNI should focus on the areas where the school is strong, including business and education. “I mean, that’s what a lot of people want to do…we need teachers and we need people in the office area,” Green said.
Hogan said those are two areas UNI is focused on and the school’s programs have “stabilized” since the cuts. “Our programs are very solid and the changes we’ve gone through have allowed us resources to invest in those programs so they’re getting better as time goes on,” Hogan said.
“We’re feeling very positive about where we are today.” If the lower enrollment projection is correct, UNI could see a $6.1 million dollar shortfall in its budget. But, Hogan said the university will have a better idea of what enrollment will look like in September.
By Scott Fenzloff & Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls