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S.D. Board of Regents show decline in students for 2021

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Across the state, the overall student headcount is down at South Dakota Board of Regents institutions, continuing a trend from last year as the pandemic’s effects linger in the education system.

Overall, the SDBOR notes a 121 student decrease in enrollment headcount compared to last year. However, unlike last year, that decrease isn’t universal across each university. The University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Dakota State University all show steady or slightly higher numbers overall compared to last year. While Black Hills State University, Northern State University, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology show decreases.

In a release Friday, SDBOR Executive Director Brian Maher stated,

“Enrollments are substantially flat and that is about what we expected, since we still see impacts from the ongoing pandemic. While we dedicated ourselves to offering a more normal higher education experience this fall, these are challenging times. Our public university system is prepared to meet that challenge head on, delivering South Dakota a well-educated workforce and engaged citizens.”

SDBOR Executive Director Brian Maher

At Northern State, Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing and Communication Justin Fraase said the lack of their normal amount of international students is still having an effect on their overall headcount, something that still hasn’t rebounded due to the pandemic.

“We saw growth over last year. But we’re still short almost 100 students than what we typically would get. And that definitely factored into both our FTE as well as our headcount decline this past year.” said Fraase.

But Fraase said Northern State, like all SDBOR institutions, is working to fix retention challenges and bring in new students. He said as life returns to a more normal setting the state, they’ll be able to once again start outreach to area high schools and recruit in new areas.

“We look forward to kind of making some slight pivots in the strategy that we used this past year. Knowing again that we’re going to be able to get into high schools more frequently than we did last year.” said Fraase.

Northern state did see growth in both it’s graduate and pre-professional student enrollment. The university’s incoming freshman class also remained on par from last year.

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