Despite recent years of Dixie State University’s growth in students, enrollment numbers this year are down.
Total headcount of students is down 67, a total of 0.78 percent from last year, according to a press release sent out by the public relations office. Compared to other schools in the state, Brigham Young University’s enrollment is up nine percent, and Southern Utah University’s enrollment is up 13 percent.
David Roos, executive director of enrollment services, said he believes enrollment being down this year can be attributed to two things: the earlier deadline for tuition and the increase in competition among other universities in Utah and online.
Roos said one of the reasons enrollment is down is because of “the purge,” which is when students were dropped from their classes for non-payment. In past years, DSU officials would allow students to not pay tuition until the third week of school before they were dropped from their classes. This earlier tuition deadline change was implemented this semester.
“Our [tuition] policy has been more liberal than those in the state, so this year we decided to change it,” Roos said.
DSU administrators decided to change DSU’s policy for two reasons, Roos said. One of the reasons is to open up seats for higher demand classes. The second reason is to drop students who are enrolled to attend DSU but actually never plan on attending.
“The downside to it all was because of that change, it did have an impact on our enrollment,” Roos said.
Even though “the purge” may have caused enrollment to decrease, Roos said DSU administrators are planning on sticking with it for upcoming semesters.
“In my opinion, part of the challenge was making sure everyone was aware of it,” Roos said. “Even though we tried publicizing it, I’m sure there were still students that weren’t aware there was an earlier deadline.”
Increase in competition
Roos said the second thing that impacted enrollment being down this year was increase in competition.
There are now more online offerings available for students, Roos said.
Locally, several schools have “stepped up their game,” Roos said.
“You can just drive up Interstate 15 and start looking at the billboards, and you can see which schools have increased their marketing budgets,” Roos said.
Jessica Arruda, a freshman nursing major from Los Angeles, said DSU administrators still have work to do when it comes to attracting the attention of students.
“I think [the enrollment] is low because of the fact that [DSU] is an up and coming school, and it’s kind of in a rural area,” Arruda said.
Solving the issue
Roos said one way to solve enrollment being down is by looking at a “broader pool of students” to recruit to by marketing to other schools that are not only in St. George
DSU has seen a lot of attraction from California, Arizona, Nevada and even Hawaii recently, Roos said.
He said DSU representatives from its marketing team recently hired a full-time recruiter for southern California who will aim to attract more students to DSU.
Roos said administrators are also looking at additional marketing channels like the internet.
“When you’re listening on Pandora and you hear a little ad about something; we want to be one of those ads,” Roos said.
Roos said DSU sells itself by what it has to offer such as its location and additional degree offerings it adds every year.
DSU’s continuing changes is like when someone walks into a store to see what’s on the shelves, Roos said.
“We’ll get more items on the shelf that students will find appealing,” he said.
Even though there was a decrease in enrollment this year, Roos said the enrollment deficit is unlikely to continue.
“I see this more as an adjustment we need to make,” Roos said. “We do need to look at our marketing strategies and what we need to adjust, and we’ll be ready for next year.”