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Which Utah colleges are growing and which are shrinking?

New enrollment numbers were released Wednesday

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Students gather for the Utah Valley University commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Orem.

Jay Drowns, UVU

SALT LAKE CITY — Some, but not all of Utah’s public colleges and universities are rapidly growing, according to enrollment numbers released Wednesday.

Dixie State University and Southern Utah University experienced the most relative growth between the 2018 fall semester and the 2019 fall semester, with significant increases in the Weber State University and Utah Valley University student bodies as well.


Salt Lake Community College and Snow College saw a slight increase and decrease, respectively, while Utah State University and the University of Utah stayed about the same size.

Overall, the Utah System of Higher Education grew about 3%, gaining about 5,400 students for a total enrollment of 189,351.

Utah Valley University remains the largest public university in Utah with 41,728 students — a 4.5% increase over last year.

The second largest student body, belonging to the University of Utah, shrunk slightly but not significantly, going down 0.5% to 32,852 students. Utah State University, with 27,810 students, saw a similar percentage decrease.

Weber State University, the third-largest at 29,644 students, experienced an increase of nearly 5%, with a record number of Hispanic students, according to a news release from the school. The number of Hispanic students at WSU has gone up 31% since 2015, the university says. The number of concurrent enrollment students — high schoolers taking university classes — has increased almost 46% during that same time.

But two of the state’s smaller public schools, Dixie State University and Southern Utah University, saw the most dramatic growth rates over the course of the past year.

Dixie State’s student body increased by 12.5%, with 11,193 students, while SUU increased by more than 10%, reporting a total of 11,224 students in 2019.

The number of nonresident students at Dixie increased by more than 8%, bringing the total percentage of nonresident students there to 17%, according to a news release from the school.

The university added 16 new programs over the past year and will continue to expand its offerings, President Richard “Biff” Williams said in a statement.

“As part of this consistent growth, we will also continue expanding our academic programs and facilities to give every DSU student a high-quality, affordable education to help them become career-ready,” Williams said.

SUU’s more than 10% increase included a 27% increase in international students, according to a news release from the school, making a total of 727 international students.

“Our continued growth can be attributed to a number of factors, but what we always hear from students is that SUU feels like home,” said Brandon Wright, assistant vice president for enrollment management, in a statement. “SUU has often been called the best secret in the state university system. One thing is for certain — the secret is out.”

Enrollment numbers at the two community colleges in the Utah System of Higher Education, SLCC and Snow, remained relatively steady. Snow College enrollment decreased about 2%, falling to 5,383. The Salt Lake Community College student body increased a little more than 1%, for a total of 29,517 students.

But SLCC is up 8.8% in new students, said the school’s director of public relations, Joy Tlou. Tlou described the increase as “a dramatic sort of hop” for the community college.

“It does represent a real big shift in the number of people who are saying, ‘I want to try college for the first time,’” Tlou said.