The official fall 2011 semester enrollment figures were released and they show a lot of different things happening in Montana’s colleges.
In Havre, the total head count of students is lower than the year before for the first time since 2007. On the other hand, the full-time equivalent figures, which measure the total number of hours students are attending classes, continued their slow climb that began in 2009.
This fall, Montana State University-Northern has 1,273 students, a drop from 2010’s 1,304.
In FTE, Northern increased from 1,118 to 1,155 this year, a 3.4 percent increase. Figures from commissioner of higher education office shows that Northern’s FTE in 2001 was 1,481.
The drop from then to now is 18.5 percent.
The only other school in the state to drop at all in that same period was Miles Community College, which fell 10.6 percent.
“We wish we had seen an increase this semester, but at the same time we are taking a look at all of our numbers and figuring out what we can do to increase our number for spring, ” said Jim Potter, Northern’s director of communications.
“We are in an area where it’s a declining demographic. Schools are all seeing decreases in high school students and that carries over to Northern. When the schools are dropping 10 percent and we only see a 3 percent drop, well at least we did better than they’re experiencing. But we’re not happy with that, and we want to do better. ”
One group of schools that has done a lot better than a decade ago were the state’s centers of technology.
The MSU colleges of technology sciences increased FTE from 2001 by 110 percent as a whole, with the one in Billings accounting for 122 percent of that, from 474 to 1,053.
The UM COTs jumped 82.8 percent in the past 10 years, with Missoula’s center jumping more than 1,000 FTEs to 1,781 this semester.
MSU’s main campus in Bozeman picked up 664 FTEs from last year, to grow 6.1 percent in the past year and 10.8 percent since 2001.
In Missoula, the University of Montana went from 11,717 FTEs in 2010 to 12,136 this fall, a 3.6 percent change in that period and 14.8 percent since 2001.