University of Missouri System Considers Capping Enrollment

Sharon Rieger's picture
Monday, August 1, 2011

Facing another year of unprecedented growth, the Missouri University of Science and Technology sought to answer a question last year that's been nagging at campus leaders: Are there too many students?

For three months, a task force pored over data โ€” looking at things such as residence hall capacity, classroom space and faculty workloads โ€” before concluding that there is, indeed, reason to worry.

"We were very close to exceeding capacity," said Jay Goff, the school's dean of enrollment management.

In some ways, the Rolla campus embodies the entire University of Missouri system. The four campuses are coping with the financial turmoil created by rising enrollment and a rapid decline in state financial support. It's a situation that's forcing the system to consider capping enrollment somewhere down the line.

Among other things, MS&T's study found that half of the 26 undergraduate programs were operating at or beyond their ideal levels. Something needed to be done, the task force concluded.

Already the school, which saw 45 percent enrollment growth over the 10 years prior to the study, had taken measures to protect its popular freshman engineering program, which limits the number of new students it will accept each year. But now school leaders also are curtailing growth in some of the more popular majors by raising academic requirements. And they have set a target of 7,400 as the maximum campus enrollment โ€” it topped 7,200 last fall.

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