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Despite a National Trend in Enrollment Decline, MU Sees Growth

More students enrolled at the University of Missouri this fall than last year. The university announced recently that enrollment grew by more than 3 percent, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The numbers defy a national trend.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses all over the country hard, and universities are no exception, with most seeing their enrollment numbers go down. According to the National Student Clearing House, a nonprofit that analyzes educational data, enrollment at universities across the country has fallen by 2.5 percent this fall.

For MU, that’s not the case. The university’s enrollment for the 2020 fall semester increased by 3.5 percent. That means more 1,000 new students.

Christian Basi, a spokesperson for the university, says the numbers feel like an endorsement to the university that students want to be there.

“We feel like we’ve proven ourselves in the community that we have been able to open and open safely and have in-person classes and a combination of those,” Basi said.

International student enrollment did suffer a decline this semester. MU had 1,634 international students enrolled during the 2019 fall semester. This semester, it only enrolled 1,319 internationals. Basi says the university believes international travel restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic explain this decline.

The university also announced record highs for student graduation and retention rates. Almost 90 percent of freshmen returned for their sophomore year, and 73 percent of students graduated within six years.

“At the end of the day, we’re doing everything we can to give students the resources and the support they need to not just graduate, but to graduate with a meaningful education that has prepared them for success long after they have left MU,” said Jim Spain, MU’s vice provost for undergraduate studies.

The university has not yet announced its plans for the 2021 spring semester, but Basi says that that announcement will likely make come later this month.

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