University of Maine students walk across the campus' mall in October of 2019. Credit: Courtesy of University of Maine

The University of Maine has set a record for enrollment this semester, propelled by a rising population of students from outside the state.

A total of 11,989 students are enrolled for the 2021 fall semester, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said Thursday, a 2.1 percent increase from last fall’s enrollment of 11,741.

A continually growing population of out-of-state students is a major factor in the increase. The 4,524 out-of-state students this semester represent a 150 percent increase over the out-of-state enrollment in the fall of 2009.

The announcement about the record enrollment at Maine’s largest university comes shortly after the University of Maine System removed more than 200 students from its seven universities who had refused to follow the system’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Students had the choice of getting vaccinated or receiving a religious or medical exemption.

It is also in contrast to the sharp drop in enrollment colleges and universities are seeing across the U.S. Undergraduate enrollment has gone down 6.5 percent from two years ago, though graduate enrollment has grown by 5.3 percent, according to data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse.

Of the nearly 12,000 students enrolled this semester, 9,447 are undergraduates and 2,542 graduate students. The vast majority, 9,305, are full-time students while 2,684 are attending part-time.

The number of students of color has also increased at the university, growing from 7.3 percent of UMaine students who provided their race and ethnicity in the fall of 2009 to 15 percent this semester. Maine is the whitest state in the nation, with about 10 percent of residents being people of color, though that number has grown in recent years.

While this fall’s enrollment represents the most students ever based at the University of Maine campus in Orono since it opened to students in 1868, UMaine’s enrollment was technically higher during a period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s when students at the Bangor campus of the University of Maine Augusta, formerly known as the University College of Bangor, were officially enrolled under the the University of Maine umbrella.

Enrollment for first-year students is also up 8 percent since last year, with 2,225 in the first-year class, making the class of 2025 the fourth-largest incoming class in UMaine’s history.

“We are pleased more students are choosing the comprehensive, success-focused educational experience we provide at the University of Maine,” UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said.