Eastern New Mexico University President Steven Gamble says a slow economy and rising unemployment is responsible for the highest Spring semester enrollment the school has had in almost 40 years.
The university’s spring semester enrollment rose by 8.3 percent — from 3,712 students in 2008 to 4,021 students — this year, according to a university news release.
Of the 309 more students, Gamble said 170 are taking courses online or through correspondence such as high school students taking classes for college credit.
But a majority of the increase are students coming back from the workforce to retrain in a different field or enhance their degrees.
“We hope to continue (increased enrollment), but we also realize part of this increase is because of the state of the economy: When the economy is weak and unemployment rises, more people decide to go to school.”
The university’s nursing program which offers a Bachelor of Science degree has tripled enrollment from 48 to 140 students in the last two years, according to Gamble.
The enrollment in the college of business also increased, he said.
“We are very happy with the increase with enrollment this spring semester. At a time when necessary cuts are being made in higher education, it still shows there’s a tremendous demand for opportunities higher education offers,” he said.
The enrollment numbers are the highest at the university since 1971 when enrollment reached 4,142. Gamble said enrollment at that time was affected by the Vietnam War as students opted to enroll in college to avoid the draft. While the draft ended in 1970, the momentum of enrollment continued beyond that, he said.
| Spring Enrollment figures