The University of North Georgia (UNG) continues a two-decade trend of enrollment growth with 15,455 registered students for fall 2013, an increase of 2.5 percent over fall 2012. Meanwhile, most of the state's public colleges and universities reported declines in enrollment.
"The enrollment growth we continue to experience represents progress toward our goals of increasing educational opportunities and completion rates in the region," UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "At the University of North Georgia, we are creating a new and rare educational experience through our focus on excellence, opportunities for leadership development, a broad scope of degree programs, and the unique cultures of our four campuses."
UNG was created in January 2013 from the consolidation of Gainesville State and North Georgia College & State University; fall 2012 enrollment was calculated by adding the numbers for the two institutions. Prior to consolidation, fall enrollment at North Georgia increased every year since 1994, except in 1998 when there was no change. Gainesville State experienced substantial growth in that same time frame; slight dips in enrollment in 2011 and 1998 were offset by double-digit increases in many years, including an increase of 26.9 percent in 2003.
In an internal year-to-year comparison of registered students, UNG experienced a total enrollment increase of about 4.3 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013, according to Linda Rowland, UNG's director of institutional research. She attributes the variation to differences in how the enrollment reports have recorded students who enrolled but later withdrew, a process that is still being evaluated.
Fall 2013 enrollment across the 31 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia totaled 309,469 students, a decline of 1.6 percent (or 4,896 fewer students) over fall 2012.
The enrollment numbers were released in the system's "Fall 2013 Semester Enrollment Report," which breaks down enrollment by institution; class (freshman, sophomore, etc.); race and ethnicity; in-state, out-of-state and foreign students; and gender and age.
"As we have noted to the Board of Regents and the institutional presidents, this enrollment decline reflects a national trend in higher education that has a number of contributing factors, including demographics, the economy and, frankly some price sensitivity," said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. "In addition, here in Georgia, over two years ago the Board adopted higher admissions requirements related to remedial courses that have affected University System enrollment, primarily at our access colleges."
USG's enrollment decline from fall 2012 to fall 2013 follows a similar drop from fall 2011 to fall 2012 of 1.2 percent.
Enrollment changes were not uniform across the system. Thirteen institutions recorded enrollment increases. Of these, four had increases at or above 5 percent. They are: Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Savannah State University and Southern Polytechnic State University. Conversely, 18 institutions saw enrollment declines.