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University of Mississippi sees an almost three-percent decline in enrollment

The University of Mississippi’s enrollment decline continues for another year.

For a fourth consecutive year, the University saw a drop with the release of the 2020 enrollment numbers across all campuses. The Institutions of Higher Learning released the latest enrollment numbers for all eight of Mississippi’s public universities on Monday.

A total of 21,676 students are enrolled at an Ole Miss campus, including the University of Mississippi Medical Center, which is a drop of 597 students (2.7 percent) from last year’s total of 22,273.

Ole Miss has 18,668 students for the 2020 fall semester, which is a 3.9 percent decline (753 students) from 19,421 for the fall of 2019. At UMMC, there are 3,008 students enrolled for 2020, which was good enough for a 5.5 percent increase (156 students) over last year’s number of 2,852.

“Mississippi is always in need of more health care professionals, but the effect COVID-19 has had on our state’s health care system has made that need even greater,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Increasing enrollment while while much of our campus, like most health provider institutions across the country, was nearly completely in shut-down mode is nothing short of remarkable.”

Many factors played a role in the decline, but the COVID-19 pandemic is largely to blame, according to Chancellor Glenn Boyce. Many classes for the fall semester where held virtually, though some professor did conduct in-person instruction. That trend is expected to continue into the spring 2021 semester.

“At the University of Mississippi, we are committed to attracting the best students regardless of the challenging environments across higher education to recruit and retain students,” Boyce said. “We remain dedicated to offering renowned academic programs, powerful student experiences and a dynamic campus life to shape purposeful and strategic learners into creative and critical thinkers who will build their personal legacies and be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Since 2016, when Ole Miss posted its highest enrollment numbers in history with 24,250 students, it has seen a decrease of nearly 2,500 students.

A majority of Ole Miss students, 59.7 percent, are Mississippi residents. That is a one-percent increase over last year’s number. There are 5,276 students, or 24.3 percent, who are underrepresented minorities. African American enrollment totals 2,806 students, or 12.9 percent of the university’s overall enrollment.

Statewide, Mississippi universities remained steady compared to 2019 enrollment numbers. A total of 77,154 students are enrolled for 2020, which is a drop of 740 students (one percent) from last fall.

“Our universities have faced innumerable challenges due to the pandemic,” said IHL commissioner Dr. Alfred Rankins, Jr. “The fact that enrollment remains steady despite these challenges is a testament to the perseverance of our students and the dedication and flexibility of our faculty and staff. Our universities have worked hard to protect the health and safety of students and employees, whole maintaining the quality of academic programs, so that students can attain their educational goals and Mississippi businesses will have the workforce needed to grow and thrive.”

Mississippi State University is the largest school in the state with 22,986 and saw an increase of 760 students from last year. Ole Miss is the second-largest followed by the University of Southern Mississippi with 14,606. Southern Mississippi had an increase of 473 students compared to 2019.