Of the three North Dakota universities in the region, two are reporting increases in enrollment for the fall 2021 semester, while another is showing a decrease.

While enrollment at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake declined, numbers are up at Mayville State University and UND. UND appears to have reversed a years-long trend of declining enrollment, at least in the short term. The university has seen enrollment increase in each of the last two years, but numbers are still below what the university saw during the most recent oil boom in the early 2010s, when enrollment sometimes topped 15,000.

“It's innovation in our responsiveness to the way students want to be educated today,” said David Dodds, UND spokesman. “With all the choices that students have today, coupled with the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic, we are just extremely grateful to see the overall trajectory of growth and in our enrollment. It's just one indicator that students are generally happy with their choice in education at UND.”

UND’s fall enrollment is 13,772, up from 13,615 last year, an increase of slightly more than 1%. The university again led the state in enrollment numbers this fall, and came in ahead of North Dakota State University, which reported 12,461 students. Last fall NDSU reported 12,846 students.

Dodds said administrators at UND were particularly happy about the number of incoming freshmen. That total stands at 1,755, or 141 more new students than the previous year. The number of graduate students increased by 234 over last year, for a total of 3,538. More granular data for the school will be available at a later time.

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The North Dakota University System’s total enrollment is 43,384, down from 44,001 last fall.

Fall enrollment at Mayville State University ticked up to 1,172, compared to 1,168 last year. Included in the total, however, are 182 new freshmen, a 28% increase over last fall.

“We are thrilled to welcome many new students to Mayville State University this fall,” said Brian Van Horn, Mayville State University president. “They join a group of outstanding returning students who appreciate a personal approach to education at a smaller public university.”

This fall, there are nearly 2.5% more full-time students enrolled at Mayville State than there were last fall. The number of full-time equivalent students stands at 815, and is a 2% increase over last fall. Those 815 students mark the second-highest number of full-time equivalent students at the university. The record of 817 was reached in the fall of 2018.

There is no single reason why student numbers declined at Lake Region State College, said Doug Darling, the university’s president. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult to bring prospective students to check out the campus, and the continuing closure of the U.S-Canadian border also had an impact on enrollment.

“We're only an hour from the border and we normally have 25 to 30 students from Canada, and we've got seven this year,” Darling said. “We couldn't go up and recruit.”

Enrollment dropped in both full-time and part-time areas, as well as in degree and non-degree programs. LRSC reports 1,621 students this fall, compared to 1,771 students last fall. Residence halls continue to be full for another consecutive year, and the school is continuing its work with business and industry on partnerships, internships, and apprenticeships to enhance programming and student learning opportunities.

Darling said school administrators hope to be able to do more face-to-face recruiting. Getting a student to visit campus, he said, leads to an 80% conversion rate.

Other state colleges and universities

Dakota College at Bottineau and Valley City State University saw enrollment increases. Dakota College’s enrollment is 1,162, compared to 1,060 last year. Valley City State has an enrollment of 1,686, up from 1,676.

All other institutions in North Dakota saw decreases. Fall enrollment at Bismarck State College fell to 3,549, from 3,716 last year.

Dickinson State University fell to 1,415 students, from 1,441 last year, and Minot State University fell to 2,836, from 2,920.

The North Dakota State College of Science saw a slight decrease, with enrollment falling to 2,802 from 2,829 last year. Williston State College’s enrollment fell to 906, from 959.