Enrollment declines 6.8% at Minot State University
Minot State’s overall enrollment number dropped 6.4% this semester compared to fall of 2019 — the largest fall semester to fall semester percentage decrease in 13 years. According to the Minot State University Institutional Research department, there were 3,121 students attending the university during the 2019 fall semester. That number has dropped to 2,920 in Fall 2020. Across the North Dakota University System, enrollment is down 2% over the same time period.
“The decrease in enrollment was anticipated and budgeted for,” said Brent Winiger, vice president for administration and finance. “We actually budgeted a 5% decrease in headcount and were able to reduce budgeted expenditures to compensate. For this fall, we are not experiencing any general operating fund shortages. The auxiliary funds are under a bit more financial strain.”
Auxiliary funds come from sources like campus housing and meal plans.
Winiger said that the financial impact of the drop in enrollment is not as severe as the effects felt from decreases in state funding in previous years.
“Financial stresses were actually much more difficult in previous years when we were forced to reduce budgets due to declining state support,” Winiger said. “We’ve been able to trim expenses over the past four years making us better able to withstand small unexpected drops in enrollment such as this one.”
While overall enrollment numbers are down, the percentage of students taking at least one online course increased from 42.6% to 67.4%.
“The coronavirus has turned our delivery system upside down. A majority of students are taking their classes in some way other than just attending face-to-face,” said Kevin Harmon, vice president for student affairs. “Our drop in enrollment would have been more dramatic if we would not have been as flexible with our course offerings. We have done a good job of providing HyFlex and online class offerings this semester.”
Harmon commented on the change in the environment on campus from both the drop in enrollment and the adjustment in course delivery, which has led to a much emptier environment.
“Many of my departments are funded through student activity fees, and fewer students directly impacts our ability to offer our services,” Harmon explained. “Also, the COVID-19 environment is quite different than what we are accustomed to on campus. It’s quieter. This is not the environment we strive for; however, I’ll take quiet over totally silent which is how we ended last school year without students. Students are the lifeblood of the university.”