Enrollment drops but student diversity increases at Iowa’s public universities

By: - November 2, 2022 6:51 pm

(Photo illustration using images courtesy of the Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa State University, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa)

The Iowa Board of Regents reported a drop in undergraduate enrollment at the three state universities during the 2022 fall semester.

The 1.3% decline is nearly half of last year’s enrollment drop. The universities saw a 2.5% decrease, which represented more than 1,800 students, last fall. State university enrollments have been shrinking since fall 2017. Fall 2020 saw the largest decrease in enrollment, with a drop of 3,333 students across the universities.

Iowa State University’s enrollment fell by 739 students in fall 2022 and the University of Northern Iowa’s decrease was 282 students. The University of Iowa saw a slight increase of 0.4%, with 105 additional students enrolled.

New student enrollment increased at both ISU and the UI this year. Overall transfer student enrollment also increased for the first time “in several years,” according to the 2022 enrollment report. 

The UI, with 30,015 students, has the most enrolled students this fall, a title previously held by ISU since at least 2013. A total of 68,933 undergraduate students are currently enrolled in Iowa’s public institutions. 

Graduate student populations saw a loss of 469, while professional student numbers held steady.

The number of in-state students also declined this year, as out-of-state students rose. Iowa’s public institutions lost more than 1,000 in-state students, while gaining less than 500 out-of-state enrollments. 

The UI currently has the most in-state students enrolled, with 17,308. ISU has 16,696 and UNI has 8,115. 

The international student population also declined, continuing a trend that started in 2016. The number of international students has dropped from 8,358 to 4,046 since 2016. This year, there were 337 fewer students from other countries in classrooms. 

Diversity continues to increase

More women are enrolling in Iowa’s public higher education system, which has been a consistent trend in recent years. Women comprised the majority of undergraduate, graduate, and professional student enrollment in fall 2022. 

Students who identify as racial or ethnic minorities are also enrolling at Iowa’s public institutions in larger numbers. In 2022, 17.4% of Iowa higher education students identified as an ethnic or racial minority, up 0.03% from 2021. The trend has been consistent since fall 2013, according to documents from the Board of Regents. 

Hispanic and Latinx students remain at the highest percentage of racial or ethnic minority students, with 7.1% of the student body. 

The annual enrollment report will be presented at the Board of Regents meeting on Nov. 10 at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

The regents plan to ask the Iowa Legislature for $630.46 million in 2024 fiscal year appropriations during the next state legislative session. The request asks for $34 million more than the last round of appropriations funding to help meet inflation. 

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Eleanor Hildebrandt
Eleanor Hildebrandt

Eleanor Hildebrandt is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication and global health studies, with a minor in German. She is a managing editor at the university newspaper, the Daily Iowan, and has served as an reporter intern at Iowa Capital Dispatch.