University of Michigan's undergraduate enrollment grew by 304 — or 1.1 percent — to 28,283 this fall. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
Enrollment at the University of Michigan’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor has reached a record of 43,710 students in fall 2013, with a growing population of out-of-state and international students making up nearly half of the study body.
University officials hailed the total enrollment Wednesday as a record for the fifth consecutive year.
It comes as U-M’s population of Michigan students decreased, while the number of out-of-state and foreign students increased, a trend that’s occurring statewide.
Rick Fitzgerald, a U-M spokesman, said that while the university has seen an uptick in the percentage of enrolled nonresident undergraduate students overall, it is still within a few percentage points of where U-M has been for the past decade.
“Even as the number of high school graduates in Michigan declines, in-state applications to U-M are breaking records,” Fitzgerald said. “Specifically, applications for the 2013 incoming class broke all previous records, growing to 10,014, which is 240 (students) or 2.5 percent more than last year ... The bottom line is this: Our goal is to enroll the very best possible incoming class every year. To do this, we are looking at all options to respond to changes in demographics.”
U-M’s announcement pointed to enrollment milestones, such as the incoming freshman class featuring a majority of women for the first time in 10 years.
It also noted that 10.6 percent of the students in the incoming class are underrepresented minorities, up from 10 percent the previous year.
A Detroit News analysis showed that while overall enrollment grew 5 percent over five years at U-M, resident students fell 6 percent, from 23,361 in 2009 to 21,947 this fall.
Meanwhile, out-of-state enrollment at U-M increased 17 percent, from 13,395 students in 2009 to 15,704 this year. International students increased 5 percent university-wide, from 4,918 in 2009 to 6,059.
But the most stark increases were among the undergraduate populations: out-of-state students increased 26 percent, from 7,303 in 2009 to 9,202 this year. International students increased 29 percent, from 1,594 in 2009 to 2,062 this fall.
U-M is not alone in this trend. As overall enrollment rises at the state’s public universities, they’re seeing a drop in resident students but an increasing number of nonresident and international students, according to a report released last year by the Senate Fiscal Agency.
Some say the trend reflects the quality of the higher education system in Michigan, but argue it’s important to keep those visiting students after graduation.
“It seems to me that what a state would want and need is a higher education system that is in demand nationally and globally,” said Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future Inc., an Ann Arbor think tank. “But the key to the economy long term is the proportion of graduates who stay in the state.”
U-M’s announcement came the same day a new report showed more than 58 percent of the state’s international students who use a student visa to work in the U.S. stay in Michigan.
The report was issued by the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Michigan, touted as the first program in the nation established to retain international students for economic growth. It also showed that international students are almost as likely as resident students to stay in Michigan (63 percent), and nearly three times as likely as nonresident students (22 percent) to stay in the state after graduation.
Other highlights of the report: 59 percent of international students who work after graduation major in science, technology, engineering and math — four times more than the 18 percent of Michigan students who do so.
“These are really the most in-demand, information age, innovative people for the economy,” said Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit, which began the initiative. “We want to make sure those folks stay here, start businesses here and grow the economy.”