UW News

July 24, 2008

Increase in freshman enrollment proposed

UW President Mark A. Emmert is proposing to increase the size of the UW freshmen class over the next decade and would expand its emphasis on offering degrees in “high-demand” fields.

Emmert presented his proposal to the UW Board of Regents July 17.

If this plan were adopted, the UW would be able to provide access to 600 more freshmen in Seattle and 1,100 in Bothell and Tacoma for a total of 1,700 more freshmen over the next 10 years. “Although we enrolled a record number of students this past spring, we also had to turn away many other qualified students, particularly those applying directly from high school. This plan will help address this problem,” said Emmert.

The plan would also allow the UW to award 2,000 more “high demand” degrees by 2017-18, three quarters at the undergraduate level and 500 at the graduate and professional level. At least half of these new degrees would be targeted in fields that meet critical state needs: science and technology, engineering, math and life sciences.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) has challenged the state’s degree-granting institutions to contribute to its statewide 10-year strategic master plan, which calls for increasing bachelor’s degrees awarded in the state by 48 percent. The HECB is also calling for more of these degrees to be in so-called “high demand” areas.

“We believe this is a thoughtful, purposeful and prudent proposal,” said Emmert. “The University feels keenly its responsibility for addressing critical educational needs in the state. We hope that the state will provide the necessary resources to make this plan viable.”

Under the proposal, total enrollment across the UW’s three campuses would increase by approximately 8,000 students, including 2,400 more in Seattle, 2,250 more in Bothell and 3,350 in Tacoma. About three-quarters of the overall new enrollees (6,000 students), would be undergraduates; their numbers would rise to 35,300 across all three campuses. Graduate and professional student enrollment would rise by 2,000, to 14,800 across all three campuses.

This enrollment proposal coincides with plans to develop additional on-campus housing, permitting expansion of the size of the freshman class on all three campuses. The proposal also would increase access for community college transfers by 1,000 over the next 10 years.

The University’s 2009-11 biennial operating and capital budget requests (which were also approved by the Board of Regents) contain the necessary funds to implement this proposal in the first two years. The proposal also assumes that the state would continue to provide funding per student that is competitive with the University’s peer institutions, Emmert said.