UP enrollment drops by 6%

This is the smallest freshman class since 2008

By Fiona O'Brien | September 24, 2020 10:29am

Official Fall 10th day undergraduate retention funnel headcounts from The University of Portland's Office of Institutional Research.

The Office of Institutional Research released UP’s enrollment numbers for Fall 2020, indicating a 6% drop in total enrollment from last year for graduate and undergraduate students. 

According to Dean of Admissions Jason McDonald, 133 students deferred from the 2020 fall semester, compared to only 10 last year. Total enrollment this fall is 3,999 students, a difference of 254 students from last year’s total of 4,253.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left schools anxious about their enrollment numbers.

“We knew our enrollment numbers would be down due to COVID for four main reasons,” McDonald said in an email. “Financial setbacks for families (cost). Students wanting to stay closer to home (UP’s first-year class is about 75% from out of state each year, so that worked against us). Moving online caused a lot of first-year students to defer as they want the residential experience… Not being able to have visitors during the most important time of the college search.”

This year’s freshman class of 809 is the smallest since 2008. The percentage of enrolled first time freshmen has increased from 8.8% last year to 11.9%. However, the university accepted 1,650 more freshman students this fall than last fall. 

While total enrollment has been steadily increasing since 1996, there have been a few fluctuations. From fall 2017 to fall 2018, there was a 3% decrease in total enrollment. 

The number of newly enrolled transfer students went from 72 in fall 2019 to 67 in fall 2020. However, these fluctuations are normal for the number of transfer students, year to year.  

Many other universities across the country have been concerned about enrollment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, comparable universities to UP, like Gonzaga and Notre Dame, have not yet released their numbers. 

Fiona O'Brien is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at obrienf21@up.edu.