There is no “strong evidence” that crime has contributed to the University of Minnesota’s enrollment issues, according to Vice Provost Robert McMaster.
McMaster provided a Board of Regents committee with an update on the enrollment picture at the Twin Cities campus during a Feb. 9 meeting.
According to McMaster, the university is struggling to reach its goal of 33,000 full-time undergraduate students. There are currently about 30,500, he said.
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on both recent new enrollment and retention,” McMaster told the regents. “More importantly, at all levels, especially at the first-year retention mark, we’ve seen recent declines.”
Retention rates for first-year students have slipped from 94% to a little over 90%, he explained. Transfer enrollment has also continued to decline, which McMaster blamed on declining enrollment at two-year institutions.
“The UMTC enrollment management team faces a series of challenges that we consider on a regular basis. As we’ve discussed before, the state of Minnesota is planning for a significant decline in high-school enrollments in approximately 2032. The enrollment cliff hits us out in about 10 years,” McMaster said.
Regent Janie Mayeron asked if high crime rates in Minneapolis have contributed to the university’s enrollment and retention problems.
Thanks for asking an important question, Regent Mayeron. Apparently Vice Provost McMaster doesn’t think public safety has been affecting enrollment and retention of students at the @UMNews Twin Cities campus. That’s not what we’ve been hearing… pic.twitter.com/zd91AA9wzN
— Watch Dog UMN (@WatchDogUMN) February 9, 2023
“Obviously we’re reporting on it at every board meeting here. It’s been of huge concern. Students and parents talk about it all the time,” she said.
McMaster said there is no “strong evidence that it affects the number of applications or the yield rate to the campus.”
“We do pick up chatter, our admissions office, from parents, and it’s often from Greater Minnesota, who have concerns about the safety on campus. I can’t say it’s not on the minds of many parents and students, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the actual yield rates and numbers on our campus,” he commented.
He then claimed there is “no connection whatsoever” between crime and retention.
The University of Minnesota restored its relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department last fall following a string of high-profile crimes on campus. The school then temporarily increased patrols after several targeted firework attacks over the Halloween weekend.