Immigration Policy Chill: Issue slashes nationwide grad student enrollment

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jacqueline Huntoon, provost at Michigan Technological University, gives an update on fall enrollment numbers during Friday's board meeting.

HOUGHTON — A chilling effect from the anti-immigration issue is cutting graduate student enrollments here at Michigan Technological University and institutions across the nation, an MTU administrator explained Friday.

Fall enrollment figures at MTU show an increase in undergraduate students, while master’s and Ph.D. numbers declined.

Undergraduate students increased 1.5 percent to 5,917 students. Master’s students dropped 5.8 percent to 852, while Ph.D. students had a 0.2 percent fall to 513 students.

Provost Jacqueline Huntoon said national rhetoric on immigration policy had impacted master’s enrollment, which has a high level of international students.

“Every university in the country is seeing that sort of trend,” she reported at an MTU Board meeting.

Huntoon also spoke about longer-term enrollment trends. Over the past 10 years, the College of Engineering has seen the largest percentage gain, going up 16 percent (2 percent in 2016-17). The largest drop came from the School of Business and Economics, which went down 31 percent (down 2 percent in 2016-17).

The School of Technology, which had dropped 26 percent from 2007-17, had rebounded with a 13 percent increase from 2016-17.

Engineering also showed the largest gains over the 10-year period for masters students, going up 124 percent. The School of Business and Economics posted the second-highest gains with a 79 percent increase.

Preliminary figures for spring 2018 show an increase of 0.5 percent enrollment, said Les Cook, vice president for Student Affairs and Advancement. So far, 6,779 students are enrolled in the spring, up 0.5 percent from the 6,748 last spring.

The increase is driven by a 0.7 percent jump in enrollment among undergraduates. Graduate student numbers continued to dip, with a 0.5 percent decrease.