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University of Utah enrollment numbers smash previous records

Enrollment is up in all categories, first-time freshmen up nearly 20%.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on college enrollment around the world, the University of Utah has consistently increased enrollment and continues its record-setting streak. For the second year in a row, the U saw its largest total enrollment in school history for the Fall 2021 Semester. It also welcomed its largest freshman class and saw increases in all other categories of students including undergraduates, graduates and transfers.

“This is an incredible and exciting milestone for the University of Utah,” Taylor Randall, university president. “It speaks to the value and quality we offer and reflects our solid reputation as one of the nation’s top public research universities. I am pleased to welcome all our students—new and continuing—and look forward to seeing all they will accomplish at the U.”

Enrollment of first-time freshmen increased 19.6% to 5,361 students—the first class of over 5,000 students at the U. Last fall, first-time freshmen increased 5.5%.

Overall enrollment increased 4.2% to 34,424—up from 33,047 in fall 2020. The number of new transfer students also increased, up 2.3% to 1,448. The university also saw record highs in undergraduate and graduate enrollment with graduate students up 2.3% and undergraduates up 4.8%.

“We are excited to welcome our largest class to Imagine U,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president of Academic Affairs. “The enthusiasm of our faculty, staff and students for the fall educational experience is extraordinary.”

The U also enrolled historically high numbers of domestic students of color, international students and both in-state and out-of-state students.

Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for Enrollment Management, attributes the tremendous growth to recognition of the quality of a degree from the U, a new scholarship award strategy and extensive outreach to new students.

hundreds of students wearing stand close together to form a block U on the University of Utah football field. bottom text reads, "Class of 2025," Office of Orientation and Transition.

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“The fact that we continued to significantly grow our enrollment throughout a pandemic demonstrates that we are succeeding in expanding access to the U,” said Robinson. “It’s clear the U continues to be an academic destination, not only in Utah but nationally and increasingly internationally as well.”

This is the first class admitted to the U since launching a two-year pilot study on a test-optional admissions process. Robinson said most students still chose to submit a test score as part of their application and that average GPA remained about the same.

“This tells us that, so far, going test-optional has not impacted the academic preparation of our student applicants,” said Robinson. “As a top research institution and a leader of our state, we continue to have a competitive admissions process which attracts those ready for transformative, engaged learning experiences.”