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Top stories of 2020: History made at the University of Utah

The U welcomes its largest, most diverse freshman class and sets a record-high enrollment.

Despite nationwide concerns over declining enrollment for institutions of higher education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Utah saw its largest total enrollment in its 170-year history for the Fall 2020 Semester. It also welcomed its largest, most diverse freshman class.

“With many universities across the country seeing declining enrollments this fall, the University of Utah has again proven that we are unique,” said Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for Enrollment Management. “More students chose to enroll at the U than ever before. This reflects both the value of our degrees and the incredible academic opportunities that the flagship of our state offers.”

Enrollment of first-time freshman increased 5.5% with 4,484 students, and overall enrollment increased to 33,047—up from 32,818. The number of new transfer students also increased by 9.5% to 1,416. The university also saw a record high in graduate enrollment with 8,404 graduate students this fall.

In addition to the largest freshman class in U history, the class of 2024 is also the most diverse. Students of color represent 31% of the incoming domestic class, and the number of undergraduate females is the largest it has ever been, representing 48% of first-time freshmen. The incoming class represents all 50 U.S. states, 38 countries and 24 Utah counties.

This fall the university also welcomed the first students awarded the For Utah scholarship to campus. Overall, 781 students enrolled at the U after receiving this scholarship which provides for a fully funded path to a degree for students who are Pell-eligible Utah residents.  This scholarship creates greater opportunities for students to enroll at the University of Utah by creating new access to a degree from the flagship university of the state.

“We knew that the For Utah scholarship would create incredible opportunities for students from across Utah,” Robinson said. “However, we never expected the groundswell of interest and enrollment that the scholarship created in just its first year.”

This cohort is also the first to enroll at the U since the institution was selected as a new member of the  Association of American Universities—an invitation-only, prestigious group of 65 leading research institutions marked by excellence in academic expertise and research impact, student success and securing resources in support of core missions.

“A University of Utah education is a transformative experience, partnering students with world-class faculty who are committed to expanding human knowledge and solving the world’s—and Utah’s—most pressing problems,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “We empower our students and our graduates to make a difference, because we are the University of and for Utah.”

View the Utah System of Higher Education fall 2020 enrollment release here.

mosaic of hundreds of student headshots made into a red block "U" representing the Class of 2024 at the University of Utah

Class of 2024 virtual Block U photo

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