BANGOR, Maine — University of Maine System enrollment is down 2.5 percent overall from last year, but it is up slightly at the state’s flagship campus, according to the system’s recently released enrollment report.
The University of Maine’s enrollment is now 11,286, up 0.3 percent from this time last year. The increase is small, but it is significant because it bucks a downward statewide trend that is contributing to the financial problems the system faces.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent also increased its student population by 9.8 percent from 1,209 to 1,327.
UMaine was able to keep its population steady because of a concerted and successful effort to recruit students from outside Maine. While the number of Mainers attending the university went down, as has been the trend in at least the past five years, the out-of-state number went up by 321 students, according to the report.
The tuition rate for Mainers has been flat for the three years at the university, but it has gone up during that time for out-of-state students. This year, out-of-state students will pay about $41,000 per year, while Maine residents will pay about $23,100 and students from other New England states who qualify for a reduced rate because their programs are not offered in their state will pay $27,300.
Increasing out-of-state enrollment was a hallmark of former President Paul Ferguson’s five-year strategic plan for the university, which was about half way through implementation when Ferguson announced in May he would leave UMaine for Ball State University.
Several months later, the vice president for enrollment management, Jimmy Jung, also left the university.
The largest portion of out-of-state students who attend University of Maine System schools come from Massachusetts, at about 31 percent. Just over 13 percent are from New Hampshire and almost 11 percent come from Connecticut.
International students make up 2.3 percent of the population, which is a slight increase over last year. Almost a third of those students are from Canada and 14.4 percent are from China.
Another number that is up system-wide is the amount of classes students are taking far from any of the system’s seven campuses. The number of credit hours being taken online, off campus has doubled in the past five years to almost 50,000, the report said.
The steady decline in enrollment across the system has mirrored the decline in the number of students attending Maine’s public K-12 schools, as reported by the Department of Education. The loss of students has contributed to the financial troubles that the university system has faced in recent years, which have led to budget cuts at all seven campuses.
This year, the University of Southern Maine will cut $16 million from its budget, which will result in the loss of 50 faculty members and two academic programs. UMaine will cut less — $7 million — and administrators have said they will try to do so with as little impact on academics and jobs as possible.