College Enrollment On The Rise

Enrollment at Mississippi's eight universities is up 2.86 percent this fall, the state College Board says. The final figures released Tuesday are slightly less than the 3 percent enrollment increase projected in September. The fall 2001 enrollment figures show the total number of students increased by 1,833 to 66,017. Enrollment was at 64,184 a year ago.

Commissioner of Higher Education Tom Layzell said this marks the fourth year in a row enrollment has increased at the state's universities. Layzell said information from the universities indicated that increases had occurred in a range of age groups. Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Delta State University in Cleveland and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson saw student numbers decline. Delta State had initially projected an increase in enrollment, which actually fell by 1 percent. There are 3,875 students enrolled at school, down from 3,917 last fall. Steve Watson, DSU dean of enrollment management, said most of the decrease had involved freshmen. He said some students are opting to take courses at the Greenville Higher Education Center rather than on campus. The Greenville center offers freshmen and sophomore classes through the Mississippi Delta Community College and upper division courses through DSU and Mississippi Valley State University. ``We've been on a ten year increase until this year,'' Watson said. ``What we will have to do is work harder to recruit junior students from community colleges.''

Enrollment at Mississippi Valley in Itta Bena exceeded projections despite losing a few freshmen to the Greenville campus. MVSU saw a 14.7 percent enrollment increase to 3,038 students. MVSU's enrollment gain, largely among graduate and older students, is a result of campus improvements and more flexible night and weekend course schedules, said Roy C. Hudson, MVSU vice president for university relations. ``Valley is increasing its attractiveness and credibility to a broader range of students,'' Hudson said. ``We not only increased in enrollment we increased in diversity too.'' Hudson said next fall, MVSU hopes to see the same increase in traditional freshman enrollment.

Enrollment also rose at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University at Starkville, University of Mississippi at Oxford and University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.