GRAND FORKS — Despite the ongoing pandemic and changes to student learning, the University of North Dakota's retention rate held steady into the spring semester.
The university’s spring 2021 headcount was 13,011 as of mid-February. That 13,011 headcount is down 17 students, or less than 1% — .13% to be exact — compared with spring 2020, and is down 101 students compared with numbers from the 2019 spring semester.
"We're in very good shape, I think,” UND President Andrew Armacost told Forum News Service in a recent interview. “Just as we saw consistency from fall to fall, I think we're pretty consistent going from last spring to this spring.”
The change in enrollment from fall semester is typical, however, due to things like winter commencement and students transferring or choosing not to attend during the spring semester. So the drop in enrollment is not uncommon, UND spokesman David Dodds said.
UND’s fall 2020-to-spring 2021 retention rate is 90.06%, according to data from the university, which is in line with previous years’ rates.
All in all, Armacost said the university is pleased with the enrollment numbers, given the circumstances.
“When we think about what the dire predictions were last spring and summer, due to COVID, we're very pleased,” he said.
During the last spring and summer, many in higher education worried about what the pandemic might mean for enrollment at colleges and universities across the country. While the North Dakota University System saw an overall drop in enrollment systemwide, UND saw a small bump in fall enrollment compared with fall 2019, up about .25% at the university. Armacost did note that there has been a reduction in on-campus enrollment, and an increase in both online and graduate students at the university.
What the fall 2021 semester may look like remains to be seen, but Armacost said applications to the university are up compared with the same time last year.
“We could very well see good things happening on campus in the fall,” he said.
Meloney Linder, vice president for marketing and communications at UND, said leaders are “cautiously optimistic” for the fall semester.
UND spring 2021 enrollment
- Undergraduate headcount: 9,093
- Graduate headcount: 3,423
- Law school headcount: 206
- Medical school headcount: 289
Across the North Dakota University System, enrollment is 41,480, according to initial headcounts. This headcount is 2% less than the spring 2020 term, and aligns to the 2% decrease observed in the university system between fall 2019 and fall 2020 terms. The North Dakota University total fall enrollment was 44,001. The fall 2019’s census total was 44,938.
Chancellor Mark Hagerott said last fall he was happy with the system's numbers even as it was dealing with the pandemic and economic fallout it caused.
“Considering what we were potentially facing, it’s a huge vote of confidence by parents and students that many, many of them obviously came back,” he said in September.
Total spring 2021 headcounts are:
Bismarck State: 3,468
Dakota College at Bottineau: 1,030
Lake Region State: 1,758
North Dakota State College of Science: 2,651
Williston State: 1,084
Dickinson State: 1,308
Mayville State: 1,093
Minot State: 2,733
Valley City State: 1,632
North Dakota State: 11,712